Perseverance of the Saints: Better than Once Saved Always Saved

I grew up knowing that a genuine Christian could not lose his or her salvation. Though I could not explain the doctrine, I had it taught to me time and time again. A real believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, a truly forgiven sinner, could not turn from the Lord so as to fall again under God’s condemnation. And I often heard that doctrine expressed as the security of the believer or in the colloquial, “Once saved always saved.”

In truth, I believe still that any person who is a genuine believer is once saved and always saved. But I think that expression is misleading. The idea that a person is saved through the simple response to an invitation after a sermon and the praying of a prayer leads to the abuse of the biblical doctrine that tells us that the genuinely saved remain in Christ. It is maligned by those who disagree with the doctrine as being licentious, permitting a person to pray a prayer and then live however they want.

The problem with an overly simplified doctrine of security is that we lose the language and thought of the Scripture as we speak of it. We get pithy in our claims, and we begin to say things that are true, or tru-ish, but which do not contain the full counsel of God on the issue.

Consider the words of Paul in Philippians 3. I believe wholeheartedly that Paul knew that he was saved. Paul knew that he could not be eternally lost. Christ had made him alive, forgiven his sins, and granted him a place with Christ for eternity. Paul had no doubt about his salvation. But Paul did not speak of his salvation with a casual line like once saved always saved.

Philippians 3:12-16 – 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

In this section of Scripture, Paul has been talking about his wonderful religious pedigree in Judaism. If anybody could have earned salvation through obedience to the law, by being born into the right family and performing the right rituals, Paul could have done so. But Paul knew this would not save him. He knew that all he thought had been gain for his life before Christ was really garbage when it came to earning salvation. So, as Paul says in this passage, he forgets what is behind him and looks forward.

Twice in this section, Paul describes his Christian life as pressing on. Paul strains toward the Lord. But we know that Paul has nothing to do with a self-earned, works righteousness. His letter to the Galatians is proof enough of that. Yet, the same apostle who says in Ephesians that we are saved by grace through faith here says that he strains toward the goal, pressing on to win the prize.

This language is a help to us to show that the better way to talk about our security in Christ as Christians is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. You see, the biblical wording is never such that you get saved, and then you let go of any thought of repentance or effort. No, your efforts will never contribute to your salvation. Neither will your efforts contribute to your being kept by God. But, a truly saved person will, through the course of his or her life, put forth effort to honor the Lord. True Christians persevere, striving toward Christ.

This doctrine makes sense when you consider what truly happens in our salvation. When we were lost, our hearts opposed the Lord and the things of God. We were saved when God transformed those dead hearts to living hearts, causing us to be born again and to respond to him in faith. Suddenly, hearts that were against God now desire God. And so, genuine Christians press toward God, because our new hearts now have a gracious, God-given desire to know and to please God. We persevere in the faith because of the supernatural transformation that takes place at salvation.

Of course, this is not always a steady process. True Christians can go through seasons of doubt or rebellion. But a person with a truly changed heart by God will eventually return to the Lord. True believers will persevere, being kept by God, kept in faith, for a salvation that is unbreakable.

Some who talk of this doctrine also use the term, the preservation of the saints. That too is biblical language, as God is the one who truly, sovereignly keeps us. He loses none of his own, but raises them up on the last day.

Thus, what we see about our salvation is a beautiful, two-sided truth. We press on, straining toward the Lord, and persevere in our faith. Paul says mature believers all think like this. We also rejoice in the promise that God guards our salvation (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5). Thus, we know that “once saved always saved” is true, but it is a scant description of a bigger and better doctrine, the perseverance of the saints.

An Anticipated Argument Pointing to Predestination

Romans 9 is one of those chapters of the Bible that carries with it a ton of theological weight. This is true especially regarding the doctrine of election. In the middle of his conversation about the people of Israel and how some are saved while many rejected the Messiah, Paul begins to talk about the sovereignty of God in some fairly radical terms.

Paul talks in Romans 9 about God choosing Jacob and rejecting Esau, even before either had been born. The point was that God made his choice of which twin would carry the line of blessing and promise, and that choice is not based on the relative goodness or badness of either boy. God picked Jacob. God let Esau go his own way.

Then Paul talked in even stronger terms about Pharaoh in the Exodus. Pharaoh’s heart was against God. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as well. A look back at chapter 1 of this book would remind us that God has, in times of judgment, handed people over to their own desires and allowed them to become as evil as they wanted to. This is a great example of what hardness would look like.

As the argument builds, it looks more and more like what Paul is saying is that God elects some to follow him, predestining them to salvation. It also looks like God hardens some, leaving them to their own sinful ways that will turn them more and more against him. It looks like Paul is telling us that all who are saved are saved because God chose to save them and acted on their hearts. It looks like those who are not saved are not saved because they opposed God and God left them to themselves. It looks, well, Calvinistic.

What is most convincing to me that Paul is teaching the doctrine of election here the way that reformed believers claim is what comes next. Paul anticipates the objection to what he has just written. This is something that Paul has done a couple of times already in Romans. Paul will write for a bit, and then he will show you what those who oppose biblical teaching will claim.

So, watch the objection Paul anticipates. Ask yourself if Paul’s anticipated objection and his response to that objection tells you that Paul is turning away from a doctrine of sovereign election or if he is in fact telling us, “Yes, that is what I’m saying.”

Romans 9:19-24 – 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Look at the objection Paul anticipated. People will ask how sovereign grace can possibly be fair. After all, nobody can overpower God. Nobody can resist God’s will. So how can it be right for God to judge people for rejecting him if he never elected them to eternal life?

Paul anticipates that objection. And if Paul was not teaching sovereign election, Paul would have said, “No, you misunderstand me.” But Paul does not say this. Instead, Paul responds with a reminder that we, as sinful creatures, have no right to question the way of salvation and sovereignty of the Lord. We are clay, and the potter who shapes the clay is the one who has the final say so as to what the clay will be. The potter does not exist for the clay, but the clay exists for the potter. And if there is any question as to who must be more free, the potter must be more free than the clay that the potter is using to shape things for the potter’s glory.

My point is not to remove all discomfort from this passage. Nor is my point to unpack its implications. But, I believe that it is important that we see that the anticipated objection that Paul speaks in verse 19 is a proof that what he was saying in the prior verses is exactly what it looks like; it is the doctrine of sovereign election. And we need to see that Paul’s response to the objection does not turn away from sovereignty to emphasize human autonomousfree-will. Instead, Paul doubles down on the fact that the freedom of God is ultimate.

If you want to put all this together, there are two truths you have to hold. If any person is saved, they are saved because God elected them, converted them, and saved them. If any person is lost, they are lost because they, in their sin, have never wanted to love and follow God. For the saved, God moves to overcome their natural rebellion against him, changing their desires so they come to him. For the lost, God allows them uninterrupted freedom, and they will always use that freedom to choose against God. In no case does God do anything here to treat any human being unjustly. In every case, every human life will glorify the Lord by either demonstrating his sovereign mercy or his perfect justice.

The Golden Chain and Foreknowledge

The Bible teaches election and predestination. No Bible-believing Christian can deny this, since the words are used in multiple texts. What Christians often disagree on is how God elects.

Many Christians have been taught that God elects people to salvation based on his knowledge of their future choices and actions. These believe that God elected people to salvation before they were born by looking forward, seeing whether or not they would choose to follow Christ, and then electing those he foresaw would do so. But others would say that God elects based on his own will and not based on his knowledge of future right choices in people.

Interestingly, we sometimes see both groups attempt to explain predestination or election with the same passage.

Romans 8:29-30 – 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

If Romans 8:29 stood alone, it would appear that God predestined people to salvation, perhaps simply based on his knowledge of their future choices. Foreknowledge in that verse could be taken as simple information that God possessed beforehand. But, when these two verses are kept together, when the passage is handled fully, we see that such cannot be the case.

This passage is called by some the Golden Chain of Redemption. These two verses establish a set of unbreakable links that lead from God’s foreknowledge to eternal glory. But notice, and be sure to take seriously, the fact that the verses are clear that from step to step in this chain, all who were part of each prior step are also part of the next step. No person, not a single one is lost in the flow.

It will help if we start at the end, “and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Is there any possibility that God might justify a person, granting them total forgiveness because of Christ, and not ultimately glorify that same person? Can God lose a fully and clearly saved person? By no means. Later in this chapter, Paul will point out that nothing at all can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

Stepping back, “those whom he called he also justified.” Who are justified? Those whom God called are justified. Be careful here. Paul does not say that some of those he called are justified any more than he said that some of those who were justified are glorified. No, this is all-inclusive. The call here seems to be a call that is effective. The called are justified.
None are dropped from the chain.

 

Who are called? Paul tells us, “those whom he predestined he also called.” Again, this has not proved whether or not predestination is based on the choices of the saved or the choice of God primarily. But we see that all who are predestined are called. All who are predestined are called in an effective way so as to see all of them justified so as to see all of them glorified.

 

So, who is predestined? Verse 29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Who is predestined? Those God foreknew are predestined. All of those God foreknew are predestined. There is no reason to see a break in the chain here. The Golden Chain tells us that all God foreknew are predestined, are called, are justified, are glorified.

 

But if this chain is all-inclusive on every step, then the word foreknew cannot be a reference to simple information had by God beforehand. Why? God foreknows every human being in that way. God knows all people who will exist. God knows all who will come to him and all who will not. But the text indicates no break from those he for knows and who will be predestined for salvation. Thus, if the word foreknowledge here only means data, then it would suggest that all people will be saved because all are foreknown.

 

However, a more faithful and biblical understanding here would be that to foreknow here is to know in a special way. It is to know so as to place his love upon certain people. It is for God to elect based on God’s desires and not based on simple data that he had beforehand.

 

If you study Scripture thoroughly, you will find that, when God talks about knowing someone, it is synonymous with a relationship and not merely with data. In Amos 3:2, God said that Israel is the only nation he has known. How could that be? God knows all nations intellectually. But, in the Old Testament, Israel is the only nation God chose for himself.

 

In Matthew 25, Jesus says he will tell the lost to depart from him. Why? He says he will tell them, “I never knew you.” How could that be. There is no human being about whom Jesus does not have data. But there will be people who never entered into a saving relationship with Jesus. Those he says he never knew.

 

The Golden Chain uses foreknew in the same way that those verses use knew. All God chose beforehand for a relationship with him are predestined, are called, are justified, and are glorified. There is no break in the chain. This is the only way to allow these verses to say all that they intend to say. Yes, there are implications. Yes, we who are focused so much on man’s independence will naturally balk here. But at the end of the day, this verse simply shows us that God is more sovereign than man and God’s purposes are not thwarted. God has chosen to save a people for himself, and he will accomplish his design.

A Brief Look at Total Inability

Calvinism is often represented by the acronym T. U. L. I. P. Those five letters stand for five points which are the five doctrines that opponents of Calvin’s teachings could not tolerate, but which students taught by Calvin proclaimed to be biblical and thus true. They are by no means the only things Calvin taught. They are, instead, the points of controversy related to the doctrines of grace, of salvation.

The T in TULIP  stands for total depravity, or sometimes total inability. The point of the doctrine is that mankind, without God enacting a change in the sinfully dead heart will never desire God. The doctrine states that, apart from a supernatural work done by God on the heart of a person, that person will never desire to come to God, they will not want God.

One passage that speaks to this doctrine is one I read this morning in my daily reading. In Romans 8, Paul says a few things that show us that lost man does not come to God on his own.

Romans 8:7–9 –  7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Notice three things in this little section. First, what does the word of God say about how a person will desire to come to or know God? The heart set on the flesh is hostile to God. An unconverted heart is by its very nature hostile to God. This is not God pushing the unconverted person away. It is the person rejecting God and running from him because their desire is the flesh, an all-encompassing term for the sinful life. The lost heart desires not God but what opposes God.

Second, notice that the mind set on the flesh will not submit to the law of God. Why not? Paul says that it cannot. Cannot here is a word that clearly indicates a lack of ability. This is not because God is commanding the impossible. It is not as if the Lord is telling a man to leap over the Grand Canyon. Instead, it is a total lack of ability to submit to God because the unconverted person quite clearly does not desire to do so.

Thirdly, and this is the part that I think is often skipped in this discussion, note what is required for a person to have this inability, this hostility to God that leads to them not even being able to want him, changed. It is the Spirit of God that is required to make this change. Paul points out that those who are not described by the inability of verse 7 and 8 are changed, not because they changed themselves, but because of the work of the Spirit of God. It is the supernatural work of God’s Spirit that moves a person from hostility against God, from inability to submit to God, to a desire for God, for salvation, and for the things of God. The cause of this change is God, not the man who cannot desire such a change because of his enslavement to sin and hostility to the Lord.

Do not be confused by the term total depravity. That phrase does not mean that men who do not know God are as totally evil as they could be. What the phrase means is what the Bible teaches us here. When we are unconverted, we are in the flesh. Our hearts are hostile to the things of God so that we cannot submit to him. Why can we not submit? We cannot submit to him because, as we already saw, our fleshly hearts are hostile to him and his ways. We cannot submit because of our own choice of sin. For that to change, a work of the Spirit of God must bring to life a dead heart, turning our desires from being hostile to God to desiring God. And then, when the Spirit does that work, when he moves our hearts to wanting God, we will come to the Lord because of the new desire he has given us just as surely as we could not submit to him earlier because of our old desires against him.

Is the Mission Accomplished?

What did Jesus come to do? What was his intent in his ministry and in his atoning sacrifice? Did Jesus in fact accomplish what he intended? What would it mean if he did not?

I was reading recently about the doctrine of the atonement, and I saw a fascinating little way of speaking of what Jesus came to do. In many ways, it helps us to grasp the extent of the atonement. The point ran something like this: Jesus died either for all the sins of all people, for some of the sins of all people, or for all of the sins of some people. Which is it?

If Jesus died for all of the sins of all people, then all people must be saved. If Jesus died for all of the sins of all people, yet all people are not saved, then the death of Jesus for those people somehow failed to accomplish the purpose for which he died. We reject this, and thus we must reject the notion that Jesus died for all of the sins of all people.

Did Jesus then die for some of the sins of all people? That would mean that Jesus died for all of the sins of some with exception, that there are some sins for which he did not die. Is there any biblical evidence that Jesus died for, let’s say, 99 out of 100 sins. But you and I have to make up for that last sin in order to be saved? This is clearly not the teaching of the Scripture. And, of course, if this were the teaching of the Scripture, then we would know that Jesus only died to provide the possibility of saving a people, but his death would have actually secured no salvations, not one.

Universalists believe the first possibility, that Christ died for all of the sins of all people and thus all will be saved. Those coming from an Arminian position logically must hold to something like the second position. Christ died for all of our sins except for the sin of unbelief in him. We must make up for that sin on our own by believing in order to have all of our sins covered. Because, if Christ died to pay for your unbelief, that sin would be covered and your salvation would necessarily be guaranteed.

But the third position, Christ died for all of the sins of some people, is another view entirely. There we present the idea that Jesus, in his death, perfectly and successfully accomplished all he intended. Jesus came to rescue a particular people for the Lord. His death paid the penalty for all of their sins, including the sin of unbelief before their repentance. There would thus be no way that those would not be saved, for they have all of their sins perfectly atoned for in Christ.

I thought of this little argument when reading through my daily reading plan in Matthew. Look at a simple verse that I think almost every Christian knows.

Matthew 1:21 – She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Note two things that the angel says to Joseph about Jesus. He will, emphasize that will, save his people, emphasize that his, from their sins. Will means it is a sure thing. There is no saving effort of Jesus that fails. He will save. Whom will he save? He will save his people. He will not save all people. He will save people who are his.

I believe that this verse that we only read around Christmas time is a pointer to the fact that Christ sovereignly, effectively, totally accomplished the work he came to accomplish. He came to save his people. There is nothing in this text that would indicate that he tries to save others, but they will against him and thwart his work. There is nothing in this text that indicates that all are his people and he is trying to save them. Instead, the text, in its most natural reading shows us that he will—a certainty which cannot fail—save his people—a people who are a definite and determined group—from their sins—which he accomplishes by perfectly paying the penalty for every last one of those sins. And there is nothing to indicate, in this text, that the group known as his people is merely a potential group that is as yet undetermined. Thus, the verse appears to indicate that Christ dies for all of the sins of some people, not some of the sins of all people or all of the sins of all people.

Oh, I know, many reject this notion. And, I most certainly will not have us argue these points in a comment thread. However, I read this, and I see something beautiful and worthy of praise. He will save his people. He will accomplish his mission perfectly. He will not fail, not even once, in any way. His people will be saved. And this is a glorious testimony to the power of God, the perfection of God, the perfection of the work of Christ, and the extreme glory of grace.

I could not be saved on my own. I could not contribute to my salvation. I would, had God left me to myself, have opposed him in the depths of my heart. But God is gracious. God changed my heart. God brought me salvation. God did this through the perfectly complete work of Christ. And because that work is perfect, I know that the grace of God on my life is totally secure. There is no sin of mine for which Christ did not die. Thus, there is no sin of mine, past, present, or future, which could ever separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. And all this gives me joy and hope.

And there is no true argument of injustice against this position. Do you want the death of Christ to have applied to you and covered your sins? Come to Jesus in faith and repentance. If you do, then you can know that he died for you. If you refuse him, you can know that he did not die to cover your sins. But this is not him treating anyone unfairly. In fact, it is him being gracious, giving forgiveness to those who do not deserve it. And it is him leaving to themselves those who, by their refusal, show that they want nothing to do with him or his grace.

The mission of Jesus is accomplished. He will not have failed in any regard to do what he intended to do. All for whom Christ died will be saved, they must be.

Sovereignty and Evangelism II

If you have wrestled with the issue of God’s sovereignty in salvation, election, reformed theology, or whatever else you may want to call it, you have surely run across different objections to the concept. Some struggle with the issue of why God might do things this way. Some struggle with the way that some verses in the Bible seem very clear on the topic while other verses do not. Some struggle with the fact that teachers they love or the denominations to which they belong oppose this teaching. And some wrestle with the question of how a belief in election will impact one’s view of evangelism.

 

That last objection crossed my mind as I read through Acts 16. Watch, and see if you can see with me how God’s word points to his sovereignty in salvation on the one hand while still making a global call to faith in Christ on the other.

 

Acts 16:14-15 – – 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

 

This account is the salvation story of Lydia. She had been a worshipper of God in the Old Covenant context. But any reader should see that she needed the gospel of Jesus Christ to be saved. Lydia heard, believed, and responded to her new faith with believer’s baptism. Lydia here is saved.

 

But notice the detail of the sovereignty of God. Why did Lydia believe? The word tells us, “The Lord opened her heart.” This is why Lydia believed, God did a work first in her heart to enable her to do so. God opened her heart so that she would pay attention to Paul, so that she would believe, so that she would be saved. Thus, the ultimate credit for her salvation is the Lord’s.

 

Now, the big question comes. Does such a view then make Scripture put the brakes on evangelism? Well, first we see that it does not, because Paul was openly proclaiming the gospel. Though Luke, with Paul at this point, saw that the salvation of Lydia was due to God opening her heart, that did not stop Paul from sharing with all he could.

 

And then notice what happens later, once Paul is in jail for preaching.

 

Acts 16:30-31 – 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

 

Assuming we accept that verse 14 speaks to us of the sovereign hand of God at work in Lydia’s salvation, it is then instructive to see how Paul speaks to the Jailer. When the man asked how to be saved, Paul’s answer was very direct and very simple. Believe in the Lord Jesus. That is how we are saved. Paul does not make any extra qualifications that the Lord chose to record for us. Paul does not tell the man that this belief requires the hidden hand of God to cause. I think Paul knew that God must do a work in the heart of anyone who is saved. But Paul, when speaking to the man, simply told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

 

There is one gospel. The good news is that if we believe, we will be saved. Genuine faith in Christ, faith that changes us and leads us to repentance, is saving faith. Yes, we believe that God causes such faith. But we also honestly and boldly tell the world, everyone we can, that God commands the world, all people, to repent and believe. And we tell everyone that all people who repent and believe will be saved.

 

I believe that these 2 passages show us that there simply is no way that there is a biblical case that the sovereignty of God prevents evangelism. Verse 14 shows us that God’s sovereign hand opens hearts. Verse 31 shows us that all who believe are saved. The actions of Paul and his companions show us that the call of God is to take the message of Christ to all people, indiscriminately, to call them to faith. 

Sovereignty and Evangelism I

In Acts 13, we see a beautiful scene. Paul preaches the gospel with clarity. People become curious. Some rebel against the word of God. But some believe and are saved.

 

In the middle of that scene, we have the biblical explanation of what happened, and the wording of the text is significant.

 

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

 

There are many questions that must be answered from that verse which will help us to consider the sovereignty of God in our salvation, human responsibility, and evangelism.

 

Who believed? The answer is that as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. Who appointed them? There is nothing that indicates that these people appointed themselves to eternal life; that would make no sense. The ones who were saved are the ones God appointed to eternal life. There is a clear claim of the sovereign election of the Lord here. The chosen were saved.

 

How were they saved? People were saved when they believed. That is still true and still significant. The command of God is for people to believe in Christ for salvation. The word of God tells us that all who believe will be saved. All who do not believe do so by their free choice. All who do believe also believe freely, but they have been granted that ability by the Lord who appointed them to eternal life.

 

So, is God sovereign here, or is man responsible? The answer is both. God sovereignly elects, appointing people to eternal life. But the people are fully responsible for their choices. God did not prevent anyone from believing in this passage. It was the sinfulness of the individual that prevented many from believing. But those who did believe did so by the grace of God. God is sovereign. Man is responsible.

 

Does this doctrine prevent evangelism? Did it prevent evangelism for Paul? Of course not. The apostles boldly declare the gospel. The gospel is the call of God that tells us all that everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus will be saved. The gospel includes the command to all people to turn to Jesus in faith and repentance for salvation. That call is genuine and important. And, any person who loves the Lord and loves the word of God will obey God’s call to share this gospel with others. The idea of election has never been a genuine reason to avoid being evangelistic. If you love God, you share. If you love people, you share. If you obey the word of God, you share. You do not have any insight as to whom God has elected, so you share. You know, however, that God has the ability to grant faith to people, even people you would never expect to believe, so you share with all the people you can.

 

Isn’t this an unimportant doctrine that just causes conflicts? I do not think so. I think the question of who gets the glory for salvation is extremely significant. And I think the question of glory in salvation is the question we answered earlier: Who appointed people to eternal life? Ultimately, you either have to say that people appointed themselves to eternal life by their own choice to believe or you must say that God appointed people to eternal life by his sovereign election. You must either give the final bit of credit for salvation to the one who believes or to the Lord who elects. I think it is clear that giving the final glory to God magnifies him more. Thus, I think this doctrine is important, as I do not desire to take to myself any glory that rightly belongs to the Lord.

 

What if we disagree? I hope that, if we disagree on this doctrine, we can do so graciously. There are many mysteries here. There are many parts of election that are not easy to explain. At the end of the day, God still calls us to love him, follow his word, share the gospel, and make disciples. So, if this doctrine is not something you love, I would happily talk with you about it if we could do so in a kind way—that means in person, not on Facebook. And if you do not embrace this doctrine, I will not be nasty to you or put you down. I would ask the same of you as we all seek to honor the Lord according to his word.