Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Perseverance of the Saints 5

In our final (for the time being, anyway) look at the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, we will prove it by looking at the immutability of the Covenant of Grace.

Again, we should define our terms. By Covenant of Grace, we mean that covenant which God made with Abraham, wherein God swore that He would be cut off for the sins of His people. This is what was signified when, in the ratification of the covenant, God passed through the severed carcasses of the animals in Genesis 15. The significance of this event can never be overestimated. By passing through the animal body parts, God was as much as saying that if His people violated His covenant, God would be “cut off” as payment for such sin. Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a cutting off, as a seal of this promise.

God frequently mentions this covenant in Scripture, and whenever He does, the eternal nature and immutability of this covenant is always reiterated or implied. In the following passages I have underlined references to the eternal and immutable nature of the Covenant of grace in order to demonstrate what I have just stated.

“This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9-10 ESV)
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33 ESV)

I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. (Jeremiah 32:40 ESV)

For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (Hebrews 8:8 ESV)

All of the above passages refer to the Covenant of Grace. It is said to be an “everlasting” covenant which God Himself has established. He swears that that He will be our God and that this covenant will not be removed.

Although I have treated this subject over the course of five posts, it could easily be expanded into a treatment a hundred times larger. This is a subject that appears everywhere in Scripture.

No doubt, those who reject the Perseverance of the Saints do so for the supposedly noble intention of protecting God’s honor and emphasizing the need for holy living. But as we stated back in our first post, Perseverance of the Saints does not lend itself to antinomianism. The fact that my salvation cannot be lost should fill me with unspeakable gratitude to God for the magnitude of my deliverance for my manifold sins and miseries. Whenever we become legalistic or self-righteous it because we have forgotten how great our deliverance from sin is, or we have forgotten how great our sins and miseries are.

1 Corinthians 1:30 assures us that Christ is not only our redemption, but he is also our sanctification. The Arminian belief in a losable salvation is a denial of the connected nature of regeneration and sanctification. God regenerates no one He does not intend to glorify. Therefore, if God has regenerated a man, He will undoubtedly sanctify this man. To say that Perseverance of the Saints is a license to sin with impunity is anathema. In fact, Jude says the person who reasons in this manner does so because he is predestinated to perdition (Jude 4). Harsh words, perhaps, but nevertheless true.

To deny the Perseverance of the Saints is to affirm that God is not immutable, that His decrees are fallible, that Christ’s mediatorial work is insufficient and not satisfactory, that the Spirit’s seal is revocable, and that the Covenant of Grace can and in fact, does fail. These assertions all fall far outside the boundaries of the Christian faith.

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