ARMINIANISM wrests Scripture to teach that it is possible for the true believer to fall from the grace of salvation (Gal. 5:4); and that each believer is provided with sufficient ability to persevere and preserve himself, if only he will: (“And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” John 5:40). It all depends on the choice of man’s will, whether he will persevere or not. (This denies everything thus far so irrefutably declared!) The error continues: not only is it possible that believers fatally and finally fall, sin unto death, and be eternally lost, but indeed, may often fall, be often recovered, yet in the end be lost to God. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:11). There is, then, no such thing in this life as certainty of eternal security, nor assurance of perseverance: “Have not I chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil? …And began every one of them to say unto Him, Is it I, Lord?” (John 6:70; Matt. 26:22).
CALVINISM is strong in the Divine Word that no true believer can ever fall from Christ and salvation. For He promises, “I give unto them (the sheep) eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father which gave them Me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28ff.). This promise is made unconditionally to God’s people. It is not qualified by any additions of “ifs,” “buts,” “perhaps,” “maybes,” etc. but is to be understood in its plain, unencumbered, unequivocal sense. God’s covenant is equally sure. In that Covenant He swears that He will never leave His people, and will so keep them that they shall never forsake Him: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me” (Jer. 32:40). So our salvation, and our remaining in that salvation in no way depends on us, or on our feeble will. Yet we are confident of this very thing (not of our doing, but) that He Who hath begun a good work in us will perform and perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). We trust not in our own strength (we have none!), but in H is power to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before Him! And when the elect do fall, the Lord raises them up (Prov. 24:16). So that He is faithful, who will not suffer us to perish, but will establish us, and keep from evil (II Thess. 3:3). Of this the believer may be certain, and have the assurance of faith now and forever, even though, within the organism of the church, there are some who depart from God in unbelief. But the elect “are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39). “The righteous shall hold on his way,” and as God has promised, he shall never depart from that way; but rather he shall become “stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9). The believer remains a believer; he does persevere to the end, not by human effort, but by the power of God; which power is exerted on his behalf not for any worthiness in him, but for the sake of the Lamb Who alone is worthy! He, meanwhile and always, belongs unto Jesus his faithful Savior “who shall also confirm you unto the end blameless, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:8).
Robert C. Harbach
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