Perseverance of the Saints Part 2

March 17, 2007

There is one passage, however, that Arminians (the ones who believe you are able to lose your salvation) will turn to when their arguments are being torn down:

Hebrews 6:4-6-“For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

To the Arminian, this passage seems to say that those who were ‘enlightened’ were saved, and they fell away, and they lost their salvation. They were given salvation through the work of the Spirit, yet their faith was corrupted and their salvation was lost in their sinful ways of ‘crucifying once again the Son of God’.

The problem is that the meaning of ‘enlightened’ is assumed to mean ‘saved’. When the writer of Hebrews says ‘enlightened’, we cannot assume he means ‘saved’. In the Greek New Testament, the word is photizthentas, which means ‘to give light to, to shine’, or ‘to enlighten, to illuminate’. The word photizthentas in Greek literally means ‘enlightened’! The word implies no suggestion of the person being saved, but it does clearly mean that the person has been exposed to and been given enlightenment of salvation, but not attained it, for Christ never knew him.

Even though enlightened cannot necessarily mean ‘saved’, the rest of the verse seems to imply otherwise. It states that this person has ‘tasted the heavenly gift, and have shard in the Holy Spirit’. Does that not mean saved? This phrase seems to indicate salvation when the passage is read at face value The problem is that this interpretation contradicts the rest of Scripture.

We must remember that in he early New Testament era (when Hebrews was written) that when the Holy Spirit filled someone, it not only filled them spiritually, the Holy Spirit was physically visible (Pentecost for example), and it came down at groups of people (like Pentecost). Thus, a person could physically see the work and power of the Holy Spirit, and ‘taste the heavenly gift’, and ‘share in the Holy Ghost’ when the Holy Spirit filled a group. So, a person could very well have seen the work of the Holy Spirit visibly, yet not be of the elect. With this in mind, then those who fall away, as the passage states, they must have denied the obvious power of God, and never attained salvation. Knowing, then, that they knew it was God at work, and yet denying it, is the unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can conclude that the men referred to in this passage of Hebrews, were never saved, but were reprobate sinners, and were never of the elect.

Now that we have seen what this passage in Hebrews is explaining, there is a principle to be learned. When the Bible is clear in one area (such as Matt. 7), and not as clear in another, we must use the clearer passage to aid in studying and explaining what the less clear passage means. Scripture, as a whole, is simple to understand. It is not always clear when specific details are given, but the general meaning is always understood by those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and given new hearts by the Holy Spirit. So, since the passage in Matthew is clear as to its meaning, we ought to use that passage which is easily understood to derive the deeper meaning of the other. In other words, a clear passage can bring light to a more difficult one.

In Philippians, Paul says:

Philippians 1:6– “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.”

Christ, who has begun the work in you, will complete it! You will not fall away if the good work of Christ has begun in you. Dr. Gordon Clark in his book Philippians writes on this verse:

“The work of salvation in the heart or soul was initiated by Christ, not by the human person. The text does NOT say that because Christ began to work after the sinner had started the good work, He, Christ, would continue His efforts too. The text says that Christ began the good work: He also will perfect or complete it, continuing His work throughout the now regenerated sinner’s life.”

In John 10:28-29, Christ has given us a wonderful promise. If we truly are saved, we will be held in God’s hand forever, and no one, not even ourselves, can cause God to loosen His grip on us. When His hand has taken hold of us, there is no escaping. We will continue and persevere to the end because He preserves us.

Colossians 2:13– “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,”

Dr. John Gill, a Baptist preacher from England and Calvinist from the 1700’s, writes on this verse:

“…forgiveness of sin is not done by piecemeals, or at different times, or by diverse acts, but is done at once, and includes sin past, present, and to come; and is universal, reaches to all sin original and actual, before and after conversion; sins of thought, word, and action.”

Many Arminians in their debate over whether Christ died for all our sins say that Christ only paid for the sins we have already committed, not the ones we will commit. The logical problem is that ALL of our sins were in the future when Christ died on the cross! When Christ died, we had not been born, and therefore had not yet sinned. If he only paid for past sins, He didn’t pay for any of our sins at all!

Calvinists believe that Christ’s sacrifice satisfied the all of the sins of the elect, and His sacrifice was effectual. Regeneration is based on the atoning and saving work of Christ, not the decision or work of man, and they cannot fall away from their state of grace, for “no one can snatch them out of [His] hand”. Therefore, those who ‘fall away’ from the Christian faith, and deny the atoning work of the Spirit were never Christians in the first place. Their willing ignorance and sin of unbelief destroys their claim of salvation from the beginning.

The Synod of Dort concluded on Perseverance:

“For God, who is rich in mercy, according to His unchangeable purpose of election does not take His Holy Spirit from His own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does He let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by Him, into eternal ruin.”

Those who are saved will persevere to the end. Their salvation is securely preserved by God, their justification finalized, and their souls sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Therefore, they will continue to be Christians throughout their lives, even if heinous sins interfere. Their actions will demonstrate their faith as James has said:

James 2:17-22– “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;”

Our works will demonstrate our salvation, and our salvation will into eternity as He has promised.

Scriptural support of the Perseverance of the Saints:

Romans 5:8-10– “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

Hebrews 9:12,15– “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption”, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

Ephesians 4:30– “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

2 Timothy 4:18– “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

John 6:47– “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

Hebrews 12:28– “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,”

Romans 8:35-39– “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


3 Responses to “Perseverance of the Saints Part 2”

  1. Jon Daley Says:

    A tangential comment, but I was struck by something that you said: “We must remember that in [t]he early New Testament era (when Hebrews was written) that when the Holy Spirit filled someone, it not only filled them spiritually, the Holy Spirit was physically visible (Pentecost for example), and it came down at groups of people (like Pentecost).”

    Has something changed? I am just wondering why you put “in the early New Testament era” part.

  2. Valerie W. Says:

    Wow Matt, you really hit the nail on the head! The “Perseverance of the Saints” had long been one area of Calvinism that I didn’t really understand. And even if I did, I would never have been able to hold an argument about it. Not anymore!

    “Many Arminians in their debate over whether Christ died for all our sins say that Christ only paid for the sins we have already committed, not the ones we will commit. The logical problem is that ALL of our sins were in the future when Christ died on the cross! When Christ died, we had not been born, and therefore had not yet sinned. If he only paid for past sins, He didn’t pay for any of our sins at all!”

    Yes, absolutely. From experience, often when people say “past sins”, they mean the ones we have “apologized” for. Assuming that’s correct, what would happen if we died without having repented of our most recent sins? Would that mean we would go to hell? That wouldn’t make sense! It’s nice to know that we are entirely covered by his grace — not just partially.

    So anyway, thanks again for the article. Actually the entire blog. I just found it today through a link on the rebelution forums, and I can say that it has blessed me already. I have recently been really “in to” Calvinism, so this is really refreshing. Reformed Theology is definitely a subject that most teenagers tend to shy away from, but you’ve taken it head-on! May the Lord bless you for your boldness.

    A sister and fellow rebelutionary,


  3. Matt Wells Says:


    Sorry about not publishing your comment. I have not touched my blog in months. I have been extremely busy, and I would like to do some more here soon. Your question:

    Yes, something has changed. Part of it has to do with the fact that the Apostleship era of the church is long over. Paul was the last one (mabye not the last one alive, but the last one to become an apostle). The apostles were granted a special ability by the Holy Spirit to heal and raise people from the dead in the name of Christ. During this time is when the Holy Spirits effects were often seen physically, at Pentecost, and on groups of people, also Pentecost. The New Testament era mabye was not the best way to put it, as we also are in that era. The era could rightly be called the Apostleship era.

    Thanks for your question.

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