October 20, 2017

Reconsider Jesus – Once Saved Always Saved?

michael_spencer1The following is an excerpt from Michael Spencer’s upcoming book: Reconsider Jesus – A fresh look at Jesus from the Gospel of Mark.  This week we are continuing with some of his thoughts on The Seed and the Soil from Mark 4:1-8; 13-20 that we introduced two weeks ago.  Michael Spencer’s thoughts on Mark Chapter 4 are edited by Scott Lencke. Check out his excellent blog! If you would like to be contacted when Michael Spencer’s book is available for purchase, drop us a note at michaelspencersnewbook@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Once Saved Always Saved?

 

Mark Shea is a sharp, Catholic thinker. His podcast with the “Catholic Exchange,” which finished in early 2011, was always provocative. In one of his episodes contrasting evangelical and Roman Catholic views on spiritual security and assurance, Shea made a unique comment about a common area of disagreement. There isn’t a transcript, but here’s the quote:

“I became more secure in my relationship with God once I was no longer certain I was going to heaven.”

Shea is skewering the common conception that evangelicals believe in easy salvation with instant assurance, but produce millions of believers who get “saved and resaved” with regularity or care so little about the possibility of hell that they never actually consider following Christ. It’s a bit of a caricature, but it’s also based in truth at some level. Some conservative evangelicals can make it difficult to reasonably discuss the topic at hand, especially those who run to extremes like that of making stupendous numerical claims in regards to evangelism.

So, perhaps, we need to take some time to properly assess the evangelical doctrine of assurance for a moment. It’s actually one of my favorite topics – having spent many hours wrestling with the Bible and Methodist friends over the question. And it can be one of the most misunderstood, distorted and pastorally damaging of evangelical teachings.

First of all, what are we talking about? Most usually, the discussion relates to the question: “Can I know for certain that I am going to heaven?” Some call the subject “assurance of salvation,” but that gets into the area of what a person feels at a given point and not into God’s work of salvation itself. Most Protestants call this subject “perseverance,” and, by that, they mean that quality of faith that continues through life into heaven.

On the question, “Can you know that you know that you know?”, I’ve heard at least a thousand Baptist preachers shout, “Yes!”, based on what we grew up calling “once saved always saved” (from now on OSAS). “Real” Baptists tend to like OSAS, while more reformation-influenced Baptists prefer perseverance. But all of them agree that the elect – the individual people of God, those who belong to Jesus – will persevere to the end, will not finally fall away and cannot lose their salvation.

Of course, many Protestants, following, but going beyond, John Wesley, believe that Christians may, at any moment, move into a state of unbelief and, therefore, into a loss of salvation which must be recovered. Depending on the group one is dealing with, this may take the form of only losing salvation through actual, explicit rejection of the faith – apostasy. Others, such as with some Pentecostal Holiness groups, might claim that there isn’t enough security in the Gospel to last out the morning worship service. “Born again….and again….and again….and…” is does not come across as a joke for them.

The strength of the doctrine of eternal security is that struggling, failing Christians hear the good news that God is truly on their side and will not abandon them. Pastorally, it is a powerful doctrine and, as I can attest, when working with young Christians, this can be important. Such recent converts are frequently overwhelmed with guilt and failure. That being so, offering a strong, biblical promise that their stumblings and departures from obedience have not disqualified them from God’s gift of salvation, this can be quite comforting. Christians that haunt young disciples with the threat of a God who will abandon or give up on them do little good, despite good intentions. Not to mention that a sole fear of hell produces something entirely different from transforming grace.

In terms of language, eternal security and perseverance are preferable to the more deceptive and misleading “once saved, always saved,” a phrase explicitly tied to certain evangelical evangelistic practices, like the phrase, “praying the sinners pray.” OSAS is not the actual stated view of any mainstream, historic Baptist doctrinal confession. For example, here’s part of the Baptist Faith and Message Statement 2000 on God’s Purpose In Grace:

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Many who reject eternal security ridicule the idea that those persons who lived as Christians in some respect, but don’t finally go to heaven, were, in fact, not ever “true” or “real” believers.

Of course, we all have our examples.

A few years ago, our school had a student who was a religious fanatic – a hardcore zealot in every way, but seemingly completely sold out and sincere in his faith. We even gave him a special “Christian character award.” However, shortly after graduation, he abandoned the faith. Later, he embraced an apostate variety of the faith. He was young, but the trajectory was not encouraging.

Some who knew this young person would speculate about what had happened: Is this an example of lost salvation? Was he never actually saved? Still a Christian? Satanic counterfeit?

It feels good to look at early enthusiasm and announce that we have a real Christian in the house. The problem arises in that the Bible isn’t as easily convinced. At each stage, “reality” and “final reality” are different things. A young zealot may, from every human perspective, be “real,”, and prove out, at the day of judgment, to be false. And our preference for the word “saved” can cause its own problems because, without finally and safely arriving home in the eschaton, we’re not fully saved yet, in every normal sense of the word.

The language of the Baptist Faith and Message says that being a Christian and beginning to be a Christian are not the same thing. That’s the problem with “once saved always saved.” Christians are marked by perseverance, not just beginnings. Perseverance in what? Not in sinlessness, but perseverance in imperfect faith in Christ and imperfect obedience to Christ. We can say that “those with true faith” persevere to the end, despite certain failures in faith along the way.

A real beginning is, however, only one aspect of true faith. Jesus plainly taught in this parable of the four soils that the beginnings of those who have true faith and those who turn out to not have true faith may appear identical. In fact, the true believer’s “beginning” may not look “true” or be very impressive at all. What a person does now may indicate that they belong to Christ. If one abides in Christ through simple faith, the obvious conclusion is that you belong to Christ and have the Holy Spirit. But those who do not have true faith may also confess Christ, be baptized, join the church, do good works, pray, and have subjective experiences, etc. Hebrews 6 says all this and more may be things that “do not accompany salvation.”

In other words, there are “proofs” in the moment, and there is the ultimate proof: persevering faith.

What this means is that we need a way to talk about assurance in the present, and in the future. In both cases, we need to consider one’s faith and the promises of God. In both cases, we need to retain biblical realism about the importance of perseverance, for the Bible is never as anxious as some evangelicals in pronouncing an individual is either beyond apostasy or certain for heaven.

A good illustration is marriage. There may be a current description about any marriage that is considered “good”. But would we say that the described good marriage will last until one spouse dies? We simply do not know. If a completed marriage is a marriage in the full sense, then at any moment we can say, “Yes, this is a marriage,” all the while knowing that both spouses must abide in their marriage covenant to the end for the marriage to be complete.

So at any moment, a professing, baptized Christian is, from our perspective, a true Christian. But what about in the fullest, persevering-to-the-end sense? We know what God says about those who belong to him and we can confidently say that all of God’s promises to those who believe are true. However, we cannot predict the future or what may be revealed about our own misjudgments.

Therefore, perhaps we are faced with more than the perceived two options: people can lose their salvation or, if they fall away, we speak of a person’s salvation as if it wasn’t completely true or real.

Such a broader view of salvation is presented in Thomas Schreiner’s and Ardel Canneday’s work, The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. Both are Baptist biblical scholars and they propose something beyond the two usual choices: salvation is always past, present and future. Consequently, the many warnings and commands of scripture work exactly as they were meant to work, providing the path for a past, present and future faith that a disciple travels towards a completed salvation.

In other words, “once saved, always saved” isn’t the actual confessional Baptist view and, so, it doesn’t need to be the view against which other Christian groups react. At the same time, Baptists and other evangelicals could do much to end the abuses of what we might term as “invitationalism,” stopping the pragmatic pronouncements of automatic salvation to anyone who makes a profession and refocus on emphasizing things like baptism, the Lord’s Supper, church membership with integrity, public worship, growth in grace, etc. These aspects mark the life of the true believer. As one engaged primarily in evangelistic work, this part of the parable constantly reminds me that a mere profession is not salvation.

It’s never wise to defend the salvation of those who have no part in the people of God or no desire to walk in the way of discipleship. We don’t undermine anyone’s assurance by saying, “We’re walking the road of true discipleship in Christ.” Rather, we can increase assurance, as well as making the discussion and supposed appeal of losing salvation less likely.

No doubt this is truly controversial ground and my own point of view may not always stand as the majority view. Of course, it certainly makes a major difference here if one believes Jesus is teaching in this parable that unfruitfulness can be part of true faith. Still, I do believe the Bible teaches that true faith always bears fruit, in some measure and at some point. An unfruitful faith, in this parable, is one where a trust in God has been replaced by a trust in wealth and a concern for worldly success. I certainly see where it is reasonable to say Jesus is talking about a real Christian who is merely unfruitful. However, this does not comport with the rest of the parable, nor the rest of the Bible.

Martin Luther said: We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. Fruit is a necessary evidence of true faith. A false profession of faith may initially have many characteristics of real faith, but if it ultimately loves wealth and not God, it is not true faith. This obviously warns us about the security that true faith provides and the danger western Christians face in a culture that daily tells us to trust in wealth and possessions for security, identity and self-worth.

The same parable also demonstrates that the fruitfulness that accompanies true faith may not necessarily be the same. There are different kinds of fruitfulness and differing amounts of fruitfulness. The Holy Spirit bears fruit in the life of every true Christian, but there are real differences in each believer. Sin has its consequences in our lives and most of us can say that there have been intended harvests which sin has taken from us. We should refrain from being overly judgmental towards others because of this very thing. All of us have seasons of more fruit and some of less fruit. But only God can truly judge the reality of a person’s faith and what is true fruit within that person’s life. What appears to be fruit to others may simply be the flesh and what is invisible to others may be fruit that God greatly desires and values.

 

Comments

  1. Faith can be lost. We need to be kept in faith. We are “being saved” (St. Paul).

    Yes, there is fruit, but no one can judge or is able to judge it.

    The professing, baptized, church council member who works at the soup kitchen 3 nights a week and teaches Sunday school, may in fact be lost.

    And the drug addict shooting up in the alley may be one of His own.

    “The wheat and tares grow together. Don’t mess with them.” (paraphrased)

    • Christiane says:

      I’ve always loved the concept that ‘God is on your side’
      . . . now that IS reassuring for a person like me who doesn’t agree with the ‘once-saved-always-saved’ doctrine

    • I remember a deacon back in 1964 who said to me, “We cannot judge, but we can be fruit inspectors.”

      I’m not sure how that fits into this discussion, though. Some days I think it is true, some days I think it is merely funny, and some days I think it is highly presumptuous. Perhaps only God, operating through His angels who will separate the wheat from the tares at the end of the harvest, can be the fruit inspector.

      • My Calvary Chapel friends always pull the “fruit inspector” line to justify judging, completely ignoring the fact that “by their fruit will you know them” refers specifically to teachers. And then they give their evangelical celebrity leaders a wide pass on a large number of things. Oh the irony.

    • It has recently struck me that the Fruit of the Spirit are not action verbs, but more states of being. Love, Joy, Peace…

      • Yes! I do wish we emphasized these actual fruits more…

      • “Luv is a Verb” according to the dc Talk, the Christian sages of the 90s… 🙂

        Seriously, though, I’d say that none of those things mean anything as a state if they aren’t exhibited by our actions. What does it mean to say I’m in a state of peace if my actions say I’m actually worried all the time? You can’t have one without the other.

      • It’s even harder to reach a state of being than it is to consistently perform some outward good deed. The idea that if I don’t feel joyful, loving, at peace, then I’m not “saved” is a counsel to despair for me, because I’m almost always not in those states of being.

      • More to the point, these “states of being” are not the result of our own personal choice and strength of resolve: they are something done to and given to us by the Spirit. I cannot make myself joyful or peaceful. Hell, I’d give my left arm for a little more patience and self control. But ultimately, apart from the grace of God we can do no good thing.

    • I recently started wondering whether the wheat and the tares wasn’t talking about people, but about what’s inside me. The good and the bad is all mixed up together, but God will sort it all out in the end.

  2. flatrocker says:

    Christianne,
    God better be careful with a tag-line like that. We wouldn’t want him to get in trouble with Nationwide Insurance for copyright infringement.

  3. I argue with Catholics about this all the time 🙂

    I’ve boiled it down to:
    If salvation is something we are responsible for, we can (and, I assure you, will) fail.
    If salvation is something God is responsible for, how can He fail?

    • flatrocker says:

      Maybe it’s not so much who’s responsible for success or failure.

      I can conscoiusly choose to align my will to His.
      And I can consciously (and eternally) choose to unalign.
      He is there regardless, but I am not.

      • You can move the importance of responsibility up or down – but that doesn’t change the fact that there is some power which yields results. And whatever power is at work gets the credit for those results.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Right now (sweating out a prostate biopsy), I’m a lot more interested in sharing in Christ’s Victory over Death than “going to Heaven” or counting coup on the Other for my theology/soteriology.

          • That Other Jean says:

            Ergh. I’m sorry, HUG. I hope you get good news soon; or, if the news is less than good, that your treatment is swift and effective. If you’d like a heathen’s prayers, you have them.

          • Prayers HUG

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            According to the (lo res) ultrasound probe used to aim the biopsy, there is no sign of abnormality in the prostate capsule/casing. If I do have prostate cancer, there is no sign it may have broken containment.

            However, I’m navigating the confusing world of prostate support groups, which have broken down in to a set of Fundamentalist Religions/Churches of One, each Church of One True Way contradicting all others and Anathematizing them as Heretics. “Robotic Laparoscopic Surgery! NO! Open Surgery! NO! Radiation (IVRT)! NO! Radiation (Proton Beam)! NO! Implanted Radiation Seeds! NO! Cryoablation! NO! HIFU (in Canada or Mexico)! NO! Hormones! NO! Veganism and VITAMINS VITAMINS VITAMINS!!!!” All with a heavy mixture of “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers!” Conspiracy Theory re the medical establishment. I have been accused (with pointing accusing finger) of giving myself cancer because “You Eat MEAT!” AND I HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN DIAGNOSED/CONFIRMED YET!

          • Do keep us posted. You are loved an in our prayers.

            I suppose it is rather sick of me to take comfort in knowing that Christianity isn’t the only group infected by such mania.

        • flatrocker says:

          To God be all the power.
          (and the might and the glory and the credit and the success and the responsibility).
          And from the power that only he grants to us, we have the power to say no thanks.
          Or not.

          Now where’s that irresistible grace I was looking for? It’s around here somewhere.

          • “we have the power to say no thanks.”

            The problem with this approach is that no rational, informed person would say, “Yea, I’d really prefer eternity in Hell”.

            So then, you are either left saying that people go to Hell for being irrational and/or uninformed (and you get to boast about being more rational and/or informed), or you start doing away with Hell (since it really makes no sense in this framework).

          • And from the power that only he grants to us, we have the power to say no thanks.
            Or not.

            Apparently, or else very large chunks of scripture are meaningless. That’s as much as I’m pulling on this thread, except to observe that nedbreck’s position has its own set of problems, nuff said. Well said, flatrocker, IMO.

          • The problem with this approach is that no rational, informed person would say, “Yea, I’d really prefer eternity in Hell”.

            Maybe heaven and hell aren’t really too different of places… To those that love God, being in His presence is bliss. To those who don’t know Him, He is experienced as an all-consuming fire.

            I like how Dallas Willard put it:

            I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it But “standing it” may prove to be a more difficult matter than those who take their view of heaven from popular movies or popular preaching may think. The fires in heaven may be hotter than those in the other place.

            I tried posting this comment like an hour ago, and it never showed up. When I tried again, it said it was a duplicate. I still haven’t seen anything show up, so I apologize if it is showing up and I just can’t see it for some reason. But I’ll try again.

          • I can see how that would work – but it still doesn’t answer “how do we come to love God?”

            Is it some power we generate within ourselves? Or is it a gift of God?

          • “I can see how that would work – but it still doesn’t answer “how do we come to love God?”

            Is it some power we generate within ourselves? Or is it a gift of God?”

            Advice to self and all others listening: quit worrying about it and do it.

          • flatrocker says:

            nedbrek,
            Is it some power we generate within ourselves? Yes
            Or is it a gift from God? Yes

            All power comes from God. What we generate is his to begin with (great – yet another paradox to wrestle with!).

            Grasping where the source of our power actually emanates from is the beginning of the alignment of our will to his. To the extent that we fight this alignment becomes hell – both here and hereafter.

            And just to clarify that we’re not chasing some buddhist rabbit trail here, in the alignment of our will to his, we get to retain our individuality. This may be the crowning glory of Christian philosophy – paradoxically of course :).

          • @damaris: best thing I’ve read probably all month; or as my martial arts instructor tells me once a class (or more): Greg, don’t overthink it.

            Advice to self and all others listening: quit worrying about it and do it.

          • It’s not “do it” – it’s trust.

            What are we trusting in:
            1) Helping in the community
            2) Religious piety or activity
            3) Biblical understanding
            4) Saying a prayer
            5) Feelings of peace or contentment
            6) The finished work of Jesus reckoned to my account

          • Nedbrek,

            The “it” in the sentence I wrote above referred to loving. Trust is of course fundamental to Christian life, but it doesn’t replace the action of loving. If you’re supposed to love God and neighbor, get started the best you can; trust comes into play as we realize our shortcomings and count on God to act in us, but when God asks us about giving water and clothing the naked, “I trusted you to do it, God” isn’t going to go over really well.

      • You can consciously choose to align your will with His? Inconceivable! …so why on earth do you continue to sin?

        • flatrocker says:

          Well let’s start with lust, gluttony, greed, sloth wrath, envy, and pride. And while we’re at it, why not throw in a little acedia and vainglory. That ought to about cover it for a lifetime.

    • You do know that we Catholics do not take responsibility for our own salvation. That is God’s job. There are some non-Catholics who think we believe it is our responsibility (and they have convinced some poorly formed Catholics that is what the Church teaches).

      • Christiane says:

        Among Catholics, there is a strong communal ‘trust’ in Our Lord.
        The peace that results from this is not something easily explained in words;
        but in response, there is a deep collective awareness of thankfulness to God for His tender mercies.

      • Josh in FW says:

        I’m a big fan of the IM Catholics (Damaris, Radagast, Pattie, HUG, yourself). Y’all have taught this grandson of a SBC pastor quite a bit about following Christ and I’ve also been very glad to learn how much of what I had been taught about Catholics was complete bunk.

  4. I understand your point. My question is, since this all seems to depend on my “true faith”, how do I know if my faith is indeed “true”? If God is truly on my side, I pray that He will give me every benefit of the doubt, so to speak.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      How do you know if your faith is indeed “true”?

      In practice, it’s often because “Do you do EXACTLY the same things *I* do? Are you as ‘On fire for the LOORD’ as ME?”

      In practice, there’s also the “Ressegue Regression” tactic, to destroy the mark’s faith so he can Really be Truly Saved:
      Witness: “How do you KNOW your faith is true?”
      Mark: Gives reason A.
      WItness “How do you KNOW reason A??”
      Mark: Gives reason B for reason A.
      WItness: “How do you KNOW reason B????”
      Mark: Gives reason C for reason B for reason A.
      WItness: “BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW REASON C??????”
      Lather, rinse, repeat until Mark runs out of reasons. Then start the REAL high-pressure get-em-saved Witnessing until you get another notch on your King Jimmy/bragging rights at the Bema. I am NOT making this up; I’ve seen it in action. I’ve had it used on me. It’s a weaponized version of IMonk’s “Are You SURE you’re Saved? Are you Certain you’re Sure? Are you Sure you’re Certain you’re Sure?????”

    • “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . .”
      Romans 8:15-16 (NRSV)

      • The Romans verse is good, Ric, and how come nobody has mentioned 1John 5:13?

        “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

  5. The thing that bugs me about this conservation (the broader conversation about eternal security, not this article, per se) is that it always seems to be framed in a certain way that it becomes a question akin to “would you rather get food poisoning or break your arm”. I’m suspicious of the question, so I don’t like being forced to pick a side when both sides may be wrong.

    First, I don’t think salvation is something that we possess. Salvation is a process we partake in. This is where I think Eastern Orthodoxy has it right. The metaphor often used by EO Christians is that of healing. In partaking of salvation we are being healed. Certainly there are ways in which one can walk away from that, just like there are ways one could refuse treatment from a doctor. But worry about losing one’s salvation and bearing enough fruit to be considered saved kind of goes away when you start looking at it like that. I’m believe I’m being saved, and that’s good enough for me at the moment.

  6. After studying the gospels of Matthew and Mark for four years, here are some things I hold onto:

    1) I’m glad God and Jesus are my judge, not some man or woman.
    2) I’m glad God and Jesus are my judge, ESPECIALLY not a religious “Pharisee” (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, other).
    3) Jesus seemed to be graceful, loving and compassionate to just about everyone, and seemed to reward those who had even the slightest of faiths.
    4) Contrasted with that, Jesus was most angry and annoyed with religious types who thought they were Godly, but who were far from having any sort of relationship with Him and whose religiosity seemed to ruin other people’s relationship with Him.
    5) As long as I have a relationship with Him and don’t discourage others through my religiosity, I’m probably okay.
    6) Even if I screw up #5, see #1 and #2.

    Taking all that in, here’s a thought that’s ricocheting through my mind right now:
    When I see folks wobble and fall away and wonder if they “are saved, were saved, will be saved,” I’m thankful that I won’t be their judge, nor will be the pastor preaching hellfire and damnation nor will be the preacher who preaches once saved, always saved. Jesus and God will be their judge. Which brings me back to being personally glad/joyful that Jesus and God (and not some religious “Pharisee”) will be MY judge and I’m glad Jesus and God (and not some religious “Pharisee”) will be the “backsliders” judge, too.

    • Personally, I just don’t buy the whole “relationship with Jesus” terminology. It’s completely foreign to the Scriptures. I’d like to know where in Matthew and Mark you see this. I believe EVERYBODY has a relationship with Jesus. You are either his friend or his enemy. There is no middle ground. WHAT KIND of relationship is truly the crucial thing here. But usually Evangelicals playing the “relationship” card are referring to an imaginary friend named Jesus with whom they have imaginary conversations in their head. I have come to utterly reject that form of spirituality as being not conducive to mental health.

      I think you are right on on the judging thing. Lutherans teach that you can never be certain of anybody’s “salvation” except for your own. Therefore, we are to treat all professing Christians as genuine Christians, in keeping with “love always trusts.”

  7. Like it or not, Rob Bell’s book LOVE WINS starts out with an interesting discussion re: lots of things, including how a person is “saved,” and he keeps the discussion strictly “biblical” – which, of course, is the problem. The Bible presents many ways by which a person can or must be “saved.” So how does one “know” that one has been “saved” the way the Bible says a person is “saved”?

    Maybe that’s one reason his church let him go after he wrote it – i.e., he put too many ???? in people’s minds.

    • I thought he walked away from Mars Hill. I didn’t realize they canned him.

      I didn’t realize the Bible presented many ways a person can be saved. Jesus says “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” …what were the other options again?

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    As an aside, are their better pictures available of the original IMonk than the one used on top? Reason being, it seems to have been shot with his face illuminated from below, giving the “Frankenstein Flash” effect of reversed shadows used in old horror movies to make the villain/monster seem more brutal and sinister.

    • I will see if Denise can help us out here.

    • Hey, I LIKE that picture! Nothing sinister about it, although I admit it makes me feel sad that Michael is no longer with us.

      • HUG, it’s one of those things that as we grow further into the digital era, it will remind people less of Frankenstein and more of a general computer screen glow, which is apropos for the original Internet Monk.
        I’d vote to keep it.

  9. Typo? “praying the sinners pray”

    Praying the sinner’s prayer?

  10. It looks like Scot McKnight’s newest ebook, A Long Faithfulness, really addresses this topic well. The Amazon description states:

    Can we choose and un-choose God? Or does he choose and un-choose us? In The Long Faithfulness: The Case for Christian Perseverance, theologian Scot McKnight examines what the Bible says about human salvation. Inspired in part by a resurgent Calvinist movement and its particular emphasis on God’s meticulous sovereignty, McKnight invites us to a clear and captivating discussion about securing the way to eternal life–the role God plays, the role we play, and the key Bible passages that illuminate the mystery of salvation.

  11. When it comes to the “P” in TULIP, I can gladly say out of my post-Calvinist understanding that the distinctive dynamic of perseverance of the Saints is not the Saints ability to persevere, but rather God’s own powerful love and mercy which perseveres with the Saints despite the Saint’s inability to genuinely persevere.

    • Amen to that! Salvation is by grace, from start to finish, and damnation is by works. Is this logically consistent? No. Is it what the Bible claims? Yes.

  12. Perhaps one objection to OSAS is that it appears to encourage presuming upon God’s good graces. But we are saved through faith, not through presumption.

    Q: “Can I know for certain that I am going to heaven?”

    A: “Can you you believe that on account of Christ you are going to heaven?

    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1