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Once Saved, Always Saved? Part 3
by Karl Kemp
10/31/2011 / Bible Studies
Part 3 continues where Part 2 ended.
I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, 1977 edition, unless I mention otherwise. Sometimes I make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make the brackets more obvious.
Galatians 5:16-24. (This passage is discussed in more detail in my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" and in the first three articles titled, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.") "BUT I SAY, WALK BY THE SPIRIT, AND YOU [MOST CERTAINLY] WILL NOT CARRY OUT THE [SINFUL] DESIRE OF THE FLESH. [["The desire of the flesh" is to do "the [sinful] deeds [works] of the flesh" of Gal. 5:19-21. In other words, the desire of the flesh is to sin. "The flesh" is man (spirit, soul, and body) in spiritual death, without the Holy Spirit. "The flesh" is the old man that we are supposed to have crucified through the grace of God in Christ (Gal. 5:24; cf. Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24). But the trouble is that we cannot annihilate the old man, and it still wants to live and manifest itself in sin. And the old man can manifest itself in sin to the extent that we don't walk in the Spirit through faith on a continuous basis. To walk in the Spirit through faith requires, for one thing, that we really know and understand the gospel.]] (17) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, SO THAT YOU MAY NOT DO THE [SINFUL] THINGS THAT YOU PLEASE. [[It is important to see that the primary warfare is between the Spirit (not the spirit of the believer) and the flesh (the old man that still wants to live). The Christian must continually cooperate with the Spirit through faith. (Of course it is true that faith is of the heart/spirit/inner man, not the body.) It is also important to see that the flesh, as the word is used in this passage, includes the work of demon spirits. When the apostle concludes this verse with the words "so that you may not do the things that you please," he means that you may not do the sinful "desire[s] of the flesh" mentioned in verse 16.]] (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the [Mosaic] Law. [This verse is quite relevant to the overall message of this epistle. The Judaizers were trying to convince Paul's Gentile converts in Galatia that they must submit to the Mosaic Law and be circumcised, etc.] (19) NOW THE DEEDS [WORKS] OF THE FLESH ARE EVIDENT, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, OF WHICH I FOREWARN YOU, JUST AS I HAVE FOREWARNED YOU THAT THOSE WHO PRACTICE SUCH THINGS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. [First, note that "the [works] of the flesh" include sinful attitudes etc. (and not just sinful acts) and that they are not at all limited to sins associated with the literal "flesh" (the physical body). And, more significantly, when considering the topic of this paper, the apostle Paul issues a powerful warning to Christians that their lives must not be characterized by sin. They must make it a top priority to make sure that they truly are living in the righteousness and holiness required by the gospel by walking by [in/after] the Spirit through faith. If not, they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. I believe the apostle intended his readers take these words seriously and not assume that these words certainly couldn't apply to them since they knew they had become born-again Christians. They knew that they had received the Holy Spirit (e.g., Gal. 3:2), but a walk in the Spirit doesn't automatically follow, and, therefore, neither does heaven.] (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [Even as walking in the flesh produces predictable results, the works of the flesh; walking in the Spirit produces predictable results, "the fruit of the Spirit" and righteousness and holiness.] (24) NOW THOSE WHO BELONG TO CHRIST JESUS HAVE CRUCIFIED THE FLESH [THE OLD MAN] WITH ITS PASSIONS AND DESIRES." Christians cannot annihilate the flesh (the old man) so that it will cease existing, but they can, and must, keep the old man dead, that is, dead in the sense that it does not manifest itself in sinful works. See, e.g., Rom. 6:1-11 and 8:12-14 (discussed above). Romans 6:1-11 and much other scripture show that the atoning death of the Lord Jesus conquered sin and enables Christians to live in victory over sin. 1 Peter 2:24 is one of my favorite such scriptures: "He...bore our sins [with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin] in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness...." We cannot overemphasize the importance of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus, but it is also true that we cannot overemphasize the importance of the Holy Spirit. There is no Christian holiness apart from both of them. And it is equally true that we will not be holy (and holiness is not optional) if we do not do our part by cooperating with God's sufficient grace through faith, "[crucifying] the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24).
Galatians 6:7-9. "DO NOT BE DECEIVED, GOD IS NOT MOCKED; FOR WHATEVER A MAN SOWS, THIS HE WILL ALSO REAP. (8) FOR THE ONE WHO SOWS TO HIS OWN FLESH [instead of walking by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis] SHALL FROM THE FLESH REAP CORRUPTION, BUT THE ONE WHO SOWS TO THE SPIRIT SHALL FROM THE SPIRIT REAP ETERNAL LIFE. [To sow to the flesh is to do the works of the flesh (5:19-21), not living for God in the righteousness and holiness of the gospel. To sow to the Spirit is to live for God in the righteousness and holiness of the gospel, producing the fruit of the Spirit (5;22, 23). To not reap eternal life is to miss heaven and to partake rather of eternal death.] (9) AND LET US NOT LOSE HEART IN DOING GOOD, FOR IN DUE TIME WE SHALL REAP IF WE DO NOT GROW WEARY." That is, we shall reap eternal life if we continue to sow to the Spirit until the end by grace through faith.
Ephesians 5:1-10. "THERFORE BE IMITATORS OF GOD, AS BELOVED CHILDREN; (2) and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (3) But DO NOT LET IMMORALITY OR ANY IMPURITY OR GREED EVEN BE NAMED [as existing] AMONG YOU, AS IS PROPER AMONG SAINTS; (4) and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (5) FOR THIS YOU KNOW WITH CERTAINTY, THAT NO IMMORAL OR IMPURE PERSON OR COVETOUS MAN, WHO IS AN IDOLATER [The covetous man bows down, so to speak, before the things he covets], HAS AN INHERITANCE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST AND GOD. (6) LET NO ONE DECEIVE YOU WITH EMPTY WORDS [That is, with empty words like the following: "God doesn't care all that much how you are living as long as you asked Christ into your heart and call yourself a Christian. He understands your sin and He could never condemn you, and He certainly could not fail to take you into His heavenly kingdom. You don't have to be too concerned with finding out what the Bible says, or with repentance, or holiness." However, the apostle Paul (in these verses) says something quite different.], FOR BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS [that is, because of living in sin] THE WRATH OF GOD [not an inheritance in the kingdom of God] COMES UPON THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE. (7) Therefore do not be partakers with them [The apostle is speaking, at least for the most part, of God's wrath on judgment day. The point is that if you are living like the sons of disobedience, you are, by definition, a son of disobedience, and you will be "partakers with them" of God's wrath.]; (8) for you were formerly darkness, but NOW YOU ARE LIGHT IN THE LORD; WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT [The light includes the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God. For Christians to walk in the light is not optional.] (9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), (10) trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord." I would translate, "approving" or "demonstrating" instead of "trying to learn." For one thing, the "goodness and righteousness" of the gospel isn't that complicated. When we walk by God's Word and by His Spirit, we will think right, thereby "approving" the things that please God.
SOME MORE PASSAGES THAT DON'T FIT THE IDEA OF ONCE SAVED, NECESSARILY ALWAYS SAVED (Most of these passages are briefly discussed, or just listed. Some of these passages are as relevant to our topic as those discussed above, but I had to draw the line somewhere):
Luke 8:4-15 (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23; Mark 4:1-20). "(11) Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. ... (13) And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; THEY BELIEVE FOR A WHILE, AND IN TIME OF TEMPTATION FALL AWAY. (14) And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and BRING NO FRUIT TO MATURITY. (15) AND THE SEED IN THE GOOD SOIL, THESE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE HEARD THE WORD IN AN HONEST AND GOOD HEART, AND HOLD IT FAST, AND BEAR FRUIT WITH PERSEVERANCE." It is not enough to have a good beginning; we also need a good ending. Bad soil can become good soil by beginning to make God and His word top priority.
Luke 14:25-35, especially verses 26, 28-30. "(26) If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate [by comparison of his love for Christ] his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. [In our day prospective converts seldom hear that God requires a total commitment. They may not even hear of any required commitment.] (28) For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? (29) Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, (30) saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' " When prospective converts are faced with such exhortations to 'calculate the cost,' they will probably set their hearts to finish the race (by grace, through faith), or they will put off becoming Christians. However, when the "gospel" is presented in a way that leaves out the need for repentance, total commitment, calculating the cost, holiness, etc. (as is commonly done in our day), it's not all that surprising that many end up falling away (and that many "Christians" never were born again).
Acts 14:21, 22. "And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, ENCOURAGING [EXHORTING] THEM TO CONTINUE IN THE FAITH, AND SAYING, 'THROUGH MANY TRIBULATIONS WE MUST ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.' "
Romans 6:16. DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT WHEN YOU PRESENT YOURSELVES TO SOMEONE AS SLAVES FOR OBEDIENCE, YOU ARE SLAVES OF THE ONE WHOM YOU OBEY, EITHER OF SIN RESULTING IN DEATH, OR OF OBEDIENCE [to God/the gospel] RESULTING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS." The apostle Paul exhorts his born-again readers with the fact that if they willfully submit themselves to sin, they are turning from God's kingdom of life and righteousness to the kingdom of sin and death, and the end result will be eternal death. Compare Rom. 8:13a.
Colossians 1:21-23. "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, (22) yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach - (23) IF INDEED YOU CONTINUE IN THE FAITH FIRMLY ESTABLISHED AND STEADFAST, AND NOT MOVED AWAY FROM THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL THAT YOU HAVE HEARD...." For Christians to inherit "the hope of the gospel," which equals the glory of heaven (cf. Col. 1:5, 27), they must continue in the faith until the end. This includes their continuing to hold the basic truths of the gospel and their continuing to live in the holiness of the gospel. I recommend my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" (pages 186-190) for further study on these important verses.
2 Peter 1:1-11, especially verses 10, 11. "THEREFORE, BRETHREN, BE ALL THE MORE DILIGENT TO MAKE CERTAIN ABOUT HIS CALLING AND CHOOSING YOU, FOR AS LONG AS YOU PRACTICE THESE THINGS, YOU WILL NEVER STUMBLE; (11) FOR IN THIS WAY THE ENTRANCE INTO THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR WILL BE ABUNDANTLY SUPPLIED TO YOU." These verses make it very clear Peter is writing to born-again Christians. But the apostle doesn't just assume once saved, necessarily always saved. Also see 2 Peter 2:20-22, which was discussed above.
Other passages: 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-22; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 5:11-15; 6:9-12, 17-21; 2 Tim. 2:10-26; Heb. 2:1-3; 1 John 2:28, 29; 4:17, 18; Jude 1:20-24; Rev. 21:7, 8; 22:18, 19.
ORIGIN OF THE DOCTRINE ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED
This doctrine originated, for the most part at least, with the later view of Augustine. He died AD430. I'll quote part of what L. Berkhof, a Calvinistic theologian, said under the heading, "The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints in History" ("Systematic Theology" [Eerdmans, 1939, 1941], page 545): "The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints [this is the equivalent of once saved, always saved/eternal security] is to the effect that they whom God has regenerated [caused to be reborn] and effectually called to a state of grace, can neither totally nor finally fall away from that state, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved. THIS DOCTRINE WAS FIRST EXPLICITLY TAUGHT BY AUGUSTINE [[my emphasis. The fact that this doctrine wasn't explicitly taught in the early church writings in the years before Augustine (AD354-430 weighs very heavily against the doctrine being true. I'll include an excerpt that deals with the teaching of the early Christian writers on this topic when I finish this quotation from Berkof.], though he was not as consistent on this point as might have been expected of him as a strict predestinarian. With him the doctrine did not assume the form just stated. He held that the elect could not so fall away as to be finally lost, but at the same time considered it possible that some who were endowed with new life and true faith could fall from grace completely and at last suffer eternal damnation."
I'll quote part of what David Bercot says on the view of the early Christian writers under the subheading, "Can A Saved Person Be Lost?" ("Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity" [Scroll Publishing, 1989, 1999], pages 65, 66):
"Since the early Christians believed that our continued faith and obedience [true faith includes obedience (by grace)] are necessary for salvation, it naturally follows that they believed that a 'saved' person could still end up being lost. For example, Irenaeus [about AD130-200], the pupil of Polycarp [who knew the apostle John], wrote, 'Christ will not die again on behalf of those who now commit sin because death shall no more have dominion over Him.... Therefore we should not be puffed up.... But we should beware lest somehow, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins but rather be shut out from His kingdom' " ("Against Heresies," bk. 4, chap. 27, sec. 2. [Heb. 6:4-6]). [Irenaeus didn't mean that there is no forgiveness for sins committed after conversion, but that (according to the Bible) we Christians must know that it is very dangerous to play with sin, and especially sin that falls in the category of being willful, defiant sin or apostasy.]
Tertullian [about AD160-240] wrote, 'Some people act as though God were under an obligation to bestow even on the unworthy His intended gift. ... For do not many afterwards fall out of grace? Is not this gift [of salvation] taken away from many?' ("On Repentance," chapter 6)
Cyprian [about AD200-258] told his fellow believers, 'It is written, "He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved" [Matt. 10:22]. So whatever precedes the end is only a step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation. It is not the final point wherein we have already gained the full result of the ascent.' ("Unity of the Church," section 21)
One of the Scripture passages that the early Christians frequently cited is Heb. 10:26: 'If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.' Our preachers usually tell us that the writer of Hebrews wasn't talking about saved persons. ... All the early Christians understood this passage to be talking about persons who had been saved. ...." (Many more similar quotations from early Christian writers [quite a few of these brethren were martyred for Christ] are available. See the appendix of this paper.)
It is important to understand that the perseverance of the saints was only part of the package that Augustine came up with. An important part of the package was the idea that man is so completely fallen that he has no ability to respond to, or to cooperate with, God's grace. Calvinists often use the words "Total Depravity." I agree that man is so fallen that God must take the initiative in our salvation, and that salvation must be all of grace since we do not merit salvation in any way. But Calvinists (following Augustine) include the idea that man is totally unable to respond to (or cooperate with) God's grace or have faith and God must do everything, including giving faith to His chosen ones.
I believe the Bible clearly shows that faith (believing) in Christ/the gospel is our part. (It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss this topic, except to say that even the few verses that some have used to try to show that God gives us saving faith are, in my opinion, being misunderstood. This includes Eph. 2:8 and Rom. 12:3. On Eph. 2:8 see the Amplified Bible. This topic is discussed in some detail in my "A Paper on Faith," which is 114 pages.) However, it must be understood that we could not have faith in Christ if God didn't do His part first and continuously. This includes His sending His Son to die for us, His sending the gospel to us as individuals, His work of convicting, drawing, etc. And it must be understood that faith is nothing to boast about. We are simply receiving what God freely gives us at a high cost to Himself. God must receive all of the glory, as Calvinists rightly insist. We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on this topic, and every topic.
Two other parts of Augustine's package (using typical Calvinistic terminology) are "Unconditional Election" and "Irresistible Grace." Since all men are totally depraved (from that point of view), there isn't any difference between men that would enable God (by foreknowledge) to elect one person and not another. No man, they say, has any capacity for faith or to cooperate with God's grace. Therefore, His ELECTION must be UNCONDITIONED by anything in man (His election is unconditional). And since everything depends on God's sovereign will and power, who could possibly resist His saving grace - it is IRRESISTIBLE. If He chose you for salvation, you will be saved! And you will persevere - you will not lose your salvation. Who is man to thwart the plans of God?
One more basic point that is typically held by Calvinists (though this was not held by Augustine) is "Limited Atonement." That is, Christ did not die for all, but just for the elect. This makes sense when you consider salvation from a Calvinistic point of view, but I believe verses like 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 1 John 2:2 refute the idea of limited atonement. Calvinists try to reconcile such verses with their doctrine, but, in my opinion, quite unsuccessfully. With limited atonement the Calvinists are reacting against the Arminian position that the atonement was in its intention universal. From their point of view, it insults God to speak of His intention to save a people with the result that many of them are not saved. I'll quote from Berkhof again (page 394): "The Reformed position is that Christ died for the purpose of actually and certainly saving the elect and the elect only."
"The Five Points of Calvinism," which are all briefly discussed above, yield the TULIP: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints. You also hear of four-point Calvinists; they reject the idea of limited atonement.
It is very important to see that the doctrine of once saved, always saved did not arise on its own, but as part of the Augustinian/Calvinistic system briefly described above. The doctrine follows quite naturally once you accept this theological viewpoint. However, it would have been very difficult for the doctrine to arise on its own with wide acceptance because of its limited scriptural support, especially when you consider the many passages of scripture that clearly refute the doctrine. Many such passages are discussed in this paper. The primary verses used to support the doctrine are listed below.
There are many Christians today, including many Baptists, who hold once saved, always saved but do not agree with much, if any, of the Augustinian/Calvinistic viewpoint. However, I believe we can say that their doctrine traces back to this viewpoint (whether directly or indirectly) in most cases. After all, the doctrine of eternal security is appealing, and easy to accept. I'll quote from W. W. Adams. (At the time of this writing he was a professor at the SOUTHERN BAPTIST Theological Seminary. The quotation is taken from the Introduction to "Elect in the Son" by R. Shank (Westcott Publishers, 1970). I mentioned an earlier book by R. Shank in my Introduction.) "Let it be remembered that, less than a hundred years ago, all five cardinal points of Calvin's system of theology generally prevailed among Baptists, as theological textbooks of the times will confirm. Today, only one point remains to any appreciable extent among Baptists, inevitable perseverance, and there is growing evidence that Baptists are increasingly questioning this last vestige of the central core of Calvin's system of theology. Our only legitimate concern in all of this is, What saith the Scripture?" Amen!
Although I don't believe Calvinism represents a fully balanced scriptural viewpoint (this is also true regarding most other theological traditions), I can say that many Calvinists are solid, Bible-believing Christians. And I can say that there is a scriptural basis for the Calvinistic viewpoint. (I'll list some key verses in the next paragraph.) The early Calvinists (as do many Calvinists today) guarded against a serious abuse of once saved, always saved by several means. One was to put an emphasis on the need for righteousness and holiness. But today, some Calvinists and some non-Calvinists who hold eternal security insist that holiness is not required. It is not necessary to make Jesus your Lord, just your Savior. Many of them say that all that is required is that you have had a conversion experience, even if you are living in sin. Some even say that you don't have to continue to have faith to maintain your salvation, including Charles Stanley in his book, "Eternal Security."
I believe the Arminian position (which, for one thing, rejects all five points of Calvinism) is somewhat closer to the scriptural balance than Calvinism. (We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches.) However, they (some more than others) typically miss some of the balance by minimizing, or explaining away, many of the passages of scripture emphasized by Calvinists. Some verses that fit a Calvinistic emphasis are John 6:37, 39, 44, 65; Acts 2:39; 13:48; 16:14; Rom. 8:28-30; 9:6-29; 1 Cor. 1:24; Eph. 1:4, 5, 11; and Rev. 17:8 (The names of the elect have been written in the Lamb's book of life from the foundation of the world), and there are more such verses. Most of these verses do not deal directly with eternal security, but they provide a theological framework that fits the doctrine. The verses used to support eternal security are listed below.
Although many Calvinists speak of the need for holiness, they typically deny the possibility of walking in victory over sin. For example, they typically use Romans chapter 7 to try to prove that such a victory is impossible. John Calvin interpreted Romans 7 this way. Arminians typically teach (rightly from my point of view) that Christians can walk in victory over sin, and their interpretation of Romans 7 fits this viewpoint. James Arminius (AD1560-1609), from whom the Arminians were named) wrote a 200 page paper on Romans 7, giving, for the most part at least, the correct interpretation.
Aiming for a Balanced Biblical Viewpoint. It seems clear to me that Calvinists and Arminians both have a scriptural basis for their viewpoints, but by emphasizing their key verses and minimizing, or explaining away, the key verses of the other side, they both tend to miss the balanced Biblical truth. (This tendency is not, of course, limited to the Calvinistic/Arminian controversies.) We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. D. A. Carson ("Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension" [Baker, 1994], page 3) says: "Some writers draw every possible conclusion out of all passages which stress or presuppose God's unconditioned sovereignty, and then construct a system to filter out and explain any other evidence. Methodologically speaking, such an approach is no different from that of writers who focus on man, his responsibilities and choices, and conclude on the basis of their system that God's sovereignty is necessarily limited, perhaps self-limited, in some way."
I think we must admit that the Bible is written in such a way that it permits misunderstanding by supplying many verses that fit a Calvinistic emphasis and many that fit an Arminian emphasis. And at the same time there isn't much in the way of warnings to remind us that many such verses, though true, do not represent the balanced Biblical truth. Also, there isn't much of an attempt to tie both strands of truth together in a systematic way. This is not to criticize the Bible, of course; God isn't on trial and neither is His Word. But we must recognize that many verses need to be balanced out with the rest of the Bible to arrive at the balanced truth.
E. P. Sanders ("Paul and Palestinian Judaism" [Fortress Press, 1977]) demonstrates that other ancient Jewish writings (like the Dead Sea Scrolls) contain passages which speak of God's sovereign rule in such a way that you would think that they believed man had nothing of free will, but as you keep on reading you find other passages that speak of the need for man to do his part. I'll include a quotation from Sanders, pages 446, 447: "Although the individual's ability to decide and commit himself to a way or a Lord seems to us to exclude predestinarian statements, we should recall that the two generally go together in Judaism. Just as the Qumran covenanters [The Dead Sea Scrolls came from Qumran.] are called both the elect and those who choose God, so Paul has no difficulty in thinking of those who accept the gospel as being the elect of God (cf. also 1 Thess. 1:4; 1 Cor. 1:24, 26; Rom. 9:11f; 11:7). Precisely how we should formulate the balance between predestination and decision in Paul is difficult to say."
As I said, I don't believe we have enough information (even if we were competent to understand it in our present state of existence) to fully understand such things, and we don't need to fully understand them. However, we do need to make it a top priority to humble ourselves before God and seek Him for a balanced understanding of His Word. And we must make sure we do the things (by grace through faith) that He requires of us.
This article continues in Part 4.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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