“21 Misunderstandings of Calvinism”—The Twentieth and Twenty-First Misunderstandings of Calvinism

by | Nov 13, 2015 | Reformed Theology

A little apology is due here.  I estimated that this blog series would number about 20, but this post is the twelfth in this series, and will be the last.  I now deal with two misunderstandings related to the Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints.

V.  Misunderstandings related to Perseverance and Preservation

(1)     The Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints means that, once men are saved, it does not matter how they live, they will still go to heaven!

In our degenerate age this is actually how many professing Christians understand what they call eternal security.  Eternal security is a corrupt form of the doctrine of the perseverance and preservation of the saints.

The historical fact is that at the time of the Synod of Dort and the writing of the 1689 Baptist Confession, neither mainstream Calvinists nor Arminians believed such a horrible doctrine.  Neither the Calvinists who wrote the Canons of Dort, nor the Arminians who forced them to write the Canons, would ever have dreamed of teaching anything akin to the idea that once you are a Christian, you will be saved no matter how you live.  Both Calvinists and Arminians believed that the perseverance of the Saints was a necessity.  They only disagreed as to whether it was a reality and a certainty!

Listen to these excerpts from the Canons of Dort:

Those whom God, according to His purpose, calls to the communion of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, He also delivers from the dominion and slavery of sin …. But God is faithful, who, having conferred grace, mercifully confirms and powerfully preserves them therein, even to the end. (5th Head; Articles 1 and 3)

Saved people are delivered from the dominion and slavery of sin and are powerfully preserved in that deliverance to the end.  This is the authentic and original doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.

(2)     The Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints means that God’s people can have no assurance of salvation until after they have persevered!

Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is only the doctrine of the perseverance and preservation of the saints that grounds assurance of salvation.  Only a salvation bestowed by sovereign election and in which every true Christian will certainly be preserved provides any ground or hope of authentic assurance of salvation.

And furthermore assurance of our perseverance does not have to wait until after we have persevered.  It can be gained from the marks of special grace which accompany all true faith.  The 1689 Baptist Confession affirms this clearly in chapter 14, paragraph 3:

This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers; and therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.

Once more and finally, listen to the Canons of Dort:

FIFTH HEAD: ARTICLE 9. Of this preservation of the elect to salvation and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers themselves may and do obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith, whereby they surely believe that they are and ever will continue true and living members of the Church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and life eternal.

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