Jon Bloom: A few months ago, I met a friend for breakfast. When I asked him how he was doing, he answered, “I’m enduring.” If his response doesn’t sound remarkable, it’s only because you don’t know the howling spiritual storm that had raged in his soul over the past year, and the relentless questions and doubts that pressed on him. He was wrestling “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12) in a fierce, disorienting fight for faith (1 Timothy 6:12), all while faithfully leading a young, growing family, helping to (bi-vocationally) lead a young, growing church, and helping to (vocationally) lead a young, growing, increasingly visible ministry. And on top of that were the taxing stresses of normal life. Few knew the fortitude this season required of him. He was enduring, and it was remarkable. When we observe those like my friend enduring such a difficult struggle, we often feel the merciful impulse to try to relieve their anguish. This can be
Can Christians lose their salvation? (Hebrews 6)
Dennis E. Johnson: For it is impossible, in the case of 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, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. —Hebrews 6:4-6 The Gravity of Apostasy “Impossible” arrests our attention, abruptly opening a Greek sentence that runs for three verses. The author then builds suspense by withholding the detail of what, precisely, is “impossible” until the middle of verse 6: it is impossible, he finally says, “to restore . . . again to repentance” those who “have fallen away.” But before pronouncing a sober sentence on the spiritual treason from which there is no return, the author lists a series of
The Danger of Falling Away
Darryl Dash: “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it,” says the author of Hebrews (Hebrews 2:1). Stern warning! It’s the first of five warning passages in the letter (2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; 12:14-29). For instance: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). The writer keeps sounding the alarm: don’t fall away. It’s possible. You may already be on your way. Stay on guard. Help each other. These warnings have confused some. Is it possible for a genuine believer to fall away? Hebrews seems to make it clear: not all who profess faith will persist to the end. Some will fall
The Vine, the Branches, and Christian Perseverance
Sam Storms: A lot of people struggle with John 15:1-11 and our Lord’s teaching on the vine and the branches. This week I’ve been looking at the question of the relationship between professed faith in Christ and consistent obedience to his commands. This passage speaks directly to the issue. Let’s look closely at it. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart
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Can I Be Blotted from the Book of Life?
Audio Transcript from Ask Pastor John Piper: Question: We have electronic mail from listener Charles Deyzel in South Africa. “Pastor John, I love listening to the podcast each day. Thank you. If I’m correct, the Bible mentions the phrase ‘the book of life’ about fourteen times, and quite a few of those passages mention getting blotted out of the book of life. How does this NOT mean losing your salvation?” What would you say Pastor John? Answer: When it comes to the doctrine of eternal security or perseverance of the saints, we need to speak with precision. And I think it is not quite precise to say, as Charles does, in quite a few of the Scriptures it mentions you can be blotted out of the book of life. I don’t think it ever says you can be blotted out, at least not in the sense that sometimes God does it. It says we will be blotted out if
An Interview with Sam Storms on What the New Testament Really Teaches about Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security
00:00 – How did you come up with your new book’s title, Kept for Jesus? 00:32 – How do terms like “eternal security,” “perseverance,” and “assurance” relate to one another? 02:53 – What do different theological positions teach about eternal security? 05:13 – How would you respond to the claim that the Arminian perspective seems most consistent with our experience of seeing people fall away from the faith? 09:04 – Is assurance of salvation normative for the Christian life? 12:15 – Who do you envision using this book? Learn more, download an excerpt, or download a free bonus chapter, “A Primer on Perseverance.” “I have wrestled with the issue of assurance of salvation not just as a pastor counseling timid souls but as a sinner trusting in God. What a great help isKept for Jesus, then! Handling the relevant biblical texts with clarity and precision, Sam Storms has crafted real ministry with this book, working by the Spirit to
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No Perseverance, No Salvation
Sam Storms: So what are we to make of Hebrews 3:5-6, which many believe calls into question the security of our salvation as the children of God? Look at the text. “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Merely saying or declaring that one is a Christian amounts to very little. In fact, it may be an act of self-delusion and self-deception. All through the NT we come across what can only be called “false faith”. False faith is a form of “belief” in Christ that never fully takes root in the heart. There may be an initial season of joy and excitement and Bible study and church attendance, but it is followed, at some point, by
I press on, because . . .
Ray Ortlund: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:12 The New Testament rings with two glorious themes. One is the grace of Christ. He has made us his own. Think of the sweep of thought from election to predestination to creation to fall to promise to Old Covenant to New Covenant to atonement to resurrection to outpouring to conversion to growth to glorification. When Christ Jesus makes us his own, he draws us into a massive reality. The other theme is how we respond to the magnitude of all that Christ brings to us. We have not yet obtained the fullness of his grace. We are not already perfect. But we are pressing on. We are not wallowing in defeatism and self-pity. We are highly motivated for whatever next step the Lord is calling us to venture. Why? Because Christ Jesus
Will You Be a Believer Tomorrow Morning?
John Piper: Christian, how do you know you will still be a believer when you wake up in the morning? And every morning till you meet Jesus? The biblical answer is: God will see to it. Are you okay with that? Does this make you uneasy, admitting it depends decisively on God? I hope it is your joy and song. It really does have huge implications to believe this. Let the word shape your mind on it. We must endure in faith to enter heaven. By itself “must” is not a gospel word. By itself it feels threatening and burdensome. But it is not by itself in the Bible. “We must” occurs along with “he will” and “we will.” “We must” becomes “we will” because “God will.” “The one who endures to the end, will be saved” (Mark 13:13). We must endure. “If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12). “I
There Are Worse Things Than Dying
“I do not know how many times I have sung the words, “O let me never, never / Outlive my love for Thee,” but I mean them. I would rather die than end up unfaithful to my wife; I would rather die than deny by a profligate life what I have taught in my books; I would rather die than deny or disown the gospel. God knows there are many things in my past of which I am deeply ashamed; I would not want such shame to multiple and bring dishonor to Christ in years to come. There are worse things than dying.” —D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 120. (HT: Justin Taylor)
Will We Arrive Blameless on the Day of Christ?
John Piper: There is a faith-sustained holiness that Paul wants his converts to have on the day of Christ — the day of his return, when the dead in Christ will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:23). This holiness (which he also calls “blamelessness” and “guiltlessness” and “being above reproach” and “purity”) is certain through God’s faithfulness, contingent on persevering faith, and dependent on human agency. Certainty Paul is certain that God will work this persevering faith and holiness in his converts for the day of Christ. This is part of God’s faithfulness. May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24) You wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by
None can hurt those who are true lovers of God
Edwards, preaching on 1 Corinthians 13:4: Love to God disposes men meekly to bear the injuries which they receive. . . . None can hurt those who are true lovers of God. . . . The more men love God, the more will they place all their happiness in God; they will look on God as their all, and this happiness and portion is what men cannot touch. The more they love God, the less they set their hearts on their worldly interest, which is all that their enemies can touch. Men can injure God’s people only with respect to worldly good things. But the more a man loves God, the more careless he is about such things, the less he looks upon the enjoyments of the world worth regarding. . . . And so they do not look upon the injuries they receive from men as worthy of the name of injuries. Though they are intended as injuries, yet they
I will put My fear in their hearts
I will put My fear in their hearts—so they will never turn away from Me. (Jer 32:40) Jesus, to whom I have been led to commit myself, has engaged to save me, absolutely, and from first to last. He has promised not only that He will not depart from me—but that He will put, keep, and maintain His fear in my heart—so that I shall never finally depart from Him! And if He does not do this for me—I have no security against my turning apostate! For I am so weak, inconsistent, and sinful; I am so encompassed with deadly snares from the world; and I am so liable to such assaults from the subtlety, vigilance, and power of Satan—that, unless I am ‘kept by the power of God,’ I am sure I cannot endure to the end! In short, I must sit down in despair—if I did not believe that He who has begun a good work in me, will carry it
His Soul-Transforming Love
On one of his seven trips from Britain to America, George Whitefield was battling depression and feelings of failure and was stabilized finally only with meditation on God’s love in Jesus Christ. Nothing could possibly support my soul under the many agonies which oppressed me when on board, but a consideration of the freeness, eternity and unchangeableness of God’s love to me. I need not fear the sight of sin when I have a perfect, everlasting righteousness wrought out for me by . . . Jesus Christ. The riches of His free grace cause me daily to triumph over all the temptations of the wicked one. . . . May he enlighten me more and more to know and feel the mystery of his electing, soul-transforming love. Nothing like that, to support us under present and all the various future trials. . . . But the Lord has apprehended us and will not let us go. Men and devils may
God’s Covenant Faithfulness
From D.S. Orr: I often fall into the trap of thinking that God’s faithfulness to me is dependent on my faithfulness to him. As a result of my faulty thinking, I am often (almost always) enslaved by performance. Further, this mindset distorts reality as I have to minimize my sin in order for this equation to ever work out at all. Thanks be to God that God’s faithfulness is not dependent on me. Instead, He is faithful to me because of Christ’s faithfulness for me. August 13th from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. Genesis 9:15 Mark the form of the promise. God does not say, “And when ye shall look upon the bow, and ye shall remember my covenant, then I will not destroy the earth,” but it is gloriously put, not upon our memory, which is fickle and frail, but upon God’s memory, which is infinite and immutable. “The bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon
Perseverance – “God cannot fail”
“I’ve heard it said that the most arrogant person on earth is the person who believes that salvation can be lost, but still believes himself to be saved. If you ask an Arminian “who deserves the blame if he loses his salvation?”, he will say that he himself does. If you ask him “who should get the credit if he perseveres to the end?”, he is therefore required to answer the same. To say otherwise is logically inconsistent. If God truly deserves ALL the glory for our perseverance, we will never ultimately or finally fall away because God CANNOT fail. To be an Arminian, you either have to believe that God does not have the ability to hold onto us (at least not in every instance), or else that we must contribute in some sense to our own salvation (since we might lose it if we don’t). As I see it, a denial of the doctrine of perseverance requires one
A firm and indissoluble union
“The union between Christ and his mystical members is firm and indissoluble. Were it so that the believer only apprehended Christ—but Christ not apprehended him, we could promise little as the stability of such a union; it might quickly be dissolved: but as the believer apprehends Christ by faith—so Christ apprehends him by his Spirit—and none shall pluck him out of his hand. Did the child only keep hold of the nurse, it might at length grow weary, and let go its hold, and so fall away: but if the nurse has her arms about the child, it is in no hazard of falling away, even though it be not actually holding by her. So, whatever sinful intermissions may happen in the exercise of faith; yet the union remains sure, by reason of the constant indwelling of the Spirit.” —Thomas Boston, “Mystical Union”, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1964) (HT: Of First Importance)
The Good Shepherd
“He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3 “When we take the history of a child of God, compressed within the short period of a single day — mark what flaws, what imperfections, what fickleness, what dereliction in principle, what flaws in practice, what errors in judgment and what wanderings of heart make up that brief history — how we are led to thank God for the stability of the covenant, that covenant which provides for the full redemption of all believers, which from eternity secures the effectual calling, the perfect keeping and certain salvation of every chosen vessel of mercy!” Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul (London, 1962), page 169. (HT: Ray Ortlund)
The persistent love of the Spirit
“The Holy Spirit is no mere mechanical agent in the great work of a sinner’s deliverance, and of the Church’s up building, obediently doing the work appointed to Him. ‘I delight to do Your will’ is as true of the Spirit as the Son. He loves the sinner; therefore He lays hold of him. He pities his misery; therefore He stretches out the hand of help. He has no pleasure in his death; therefore He puts forth His saving power. He is longsuffering and patient; therefore He strives with him day by day; and though ‘vexed,’ ‘resisted,’ ‘grieved,’ and ‘quenched,’ He refuses to retire from, or give up, any sinner on this side of eternity. The extent to which we resist Him, and the amount of His forbearing love, we cannot know. This only we may say, that our stubbornness is something infinitely fearful and malignant, while His patient grace passes all understanding.” —Horatius Bonar, “The Holy Spirit” (HT: Of First
Is another “fall” possible in heaven?
From James Grant: In the recent “Ask Pastor John” video, someone asked Piper the following question: “If the Angels could fall, how can we know we won’t?” This is a great question, and you can watch Piper’s answer here. Piper’s answer appeals to the doctrine of perseverance. The fact that God holds us in His hand, and no one can pluck us out of His hand, applies not only to perseverance in this life, but also the life to come. That is indeed a helpful way to look at this issue. With the doctrine of perseverance, we should also consider justification and union with Christ. We can see this clearly as we examine the different states of mankind. This structure of history that comes from St. Augustine and is adopted by the Puritans. Thomas Boston (and others) called this the “four-fold estate of man.” One of my early posts addressed this matter. You can read that post here, but here