21 August 2011

The Doctrines of Grace - Part "P"

Admit it, you never thought I'd finish my series on the doctrines of grace, did you? I began this series nearly a year ago, and so it seems fitting to ensure that I conclude it before that year expires. To begin with, I want to point you to my original introductory post and explanation for taking the time to examine these wonderful doctrines of grace.
"It's the end of the world as we know it!" Maybe. Or Jesus could tarry for another 10 or 20 years. Personally I don't think He will, but it's a possibility.

"We have to get as many people saved as possible!" Umm...kind of, but we desperately need to change this terminology. The concept of evangelism and "saving souls" is important regardless of where we are in the prophetic timeline. Whether Christ is returning tonight, next week, or when your grandchildren have grandchildren, we need to be preaching Christ and Him crucified. But we cannot get anybody saved, and herein lies the problem with modern-day evangelism. Instead of striving to "get people saved" let's focus on what we are called to do: let's preach the Gospel. If we do our part, we can leave the saving up to God and the Holy Spirit. But today's squishy, warm-fuzzy gospel of "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" isn't going to suffice. Without correct doctrine, we cannot have a correct gospel. And without a correct gospel, nobody is going to truly get saved.
That's why I wrote this series in the first place, to address the common errors that we see in evangelism today. Truth be told, there are far more resources one could access which would detail these doctrines in a far deeper and more scholarly manner than I have been able to handle them. As I explained early on, this series was more for myself than for my readers, as I was working through these in my own personal study and simply opted to "study out loud."Reflecting back as I reach this final point of the "tulip" I realize that it was truly the doctrines of unconditional election and particular redemption, or limited atonement, that I most had to untangle in my own mind, and I am thankful for the clarity God granted in the process. And whether you're a "5 pointer" or a "4 pointer" or whether you have no idea what I'm talking about, the truth always boils down to this: God is sovereign; Jesus is Lord.

So this final doctrine is one that I won't dwell on long. I suspect there are few of my readers, if any, who would argue against it. It is the "P" in TULIP: Perseverance of the Saints. And, I would like to add, the preservation of the saints.

This doctrine has absolutely nothing to do with working to earn or to keep salvation. Rather, it has everything to do with the promises of God to keep those whom He has sovereignly elected until the time of glorification. Honestly, with a promise like that, how can we not rest in our salvation? Oftentimes this doctrine is boiled down to the catchphrase, "Once Saved, Always Saved" (OSAS). Personally, I do everything I can to avoid that phrase, not because it's inherently wrong, but because it seems as though it's been hijacked by the moment-of-decision crowd. OSAS seems to be softened up just enough that those who are banking on that moment in time when they "asked Jesus into their heart" can fall back on it even when their lives are failing to reveal any holy fruit, but they are instead living in direct opposition to God. Yet the idea of the saints persevering as we walk as aliens on this earth is far weightier than "once saved always saved." We do not work our way to Heaven, but if our lives do not reflect the holiness of our Father (1 Peter 1:14-16), then we ought to seriously question whether we are truly legitimate children. While the seed thrown on the rocky soil or among the thorns may have sprouted for a moment, it was only the seed sown in fertile soil which yielded a crop and was not squelched by outward persecution.

When thinking about how best to approach this final installment, I decided that no one could speak better on this subject than the Lord Himself. Following, then, is a handful of Scriptures that preach God's promise to keep His own. I pray these Scriptures bring you joy and praise as they do me.

If God has called you and He has saved you and He is sanctifying you, then He will most certainly ensure that you are brought to full and final glorification.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. (John 10:27-29)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) 
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)
Does God's promise to preserve His chosen ones exempt them from holy living? To quote the words of Paul, "May it never be!" Our desire to live holy lives, reflecting the will and Word of our Father, is proof that our faith and salvation is true and granted by God.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27)
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:6-10)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
I think it's fitting to end here with one of the most beautiful benedictions in all of the New Testament:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)

The Doctrines of Grace: An Introduction
The Doctrines of Grace: Part "T"
The Doctrines of Grace: Part "U"
The Doctrines of Grace: Part "U" Follow-up
The Doctrines of Grace: Part "L"
The Doctrines of Grace: Part "I"
Perseverance of the Saints (from Pyromaniacs)

1 comment:

  1. Amen! That is such a well written explanation about the P in TULIP. I too shy away from the phrase "once saved always saved" since the fact that God's faithfulness in keeping His elect for their final glorification is really what the P is about. It brings comfort to know that our Lord is sovereign and will finish the work He began in us. And that this ought to encourage us to be holy as we walk as pilgrims on this earth.


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