Sunday, May 6, 2012

How non-Calvinist Baptists oppose the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace while affirming it at the same time

C.H. Spurgeon, "The Prince of Preachers"
One of the distinctive doctrinal marks of a Baptist church is the belief that a truly saved person will never ever lose his salvation; a doctrine widely known as "once saved, always safe" (or "eternal security"). Christians belonging to the Reformed tradition are more comfortable calling this teaching as "perseverance of the saints" so that the importance of perseverance in holiness and faith might be safeguarded against the seeming antinomian tendency of Baptist terminologies. Meanwhile, Baptists also seem to have a bad feeling towards the traditional Reformed designation of the doctrine. They feel like it's utterly inappropriate to call the teaching as "perseverance of the saints" for it creates an impression that Christians need to persevere in faith and holiness in order to make it to the finish line of salvation; an idea which is, according to them, directly opposed to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Some Baptists who are ignorant of the reformed view even went too far, accusing Calvinists of promoting works-salvation.

Of course these presumptions from both camps are at best misleading and fallacious. Baptists strongly abominate the idea of carnal security, the same way that Reformed Christians abominate all forms of works-salvation. Both camps agree that a truly saved believer in Christ will evince good works as an outward manifestation of his saving faith (Jn. 10:27; Rom. 6:1-2; Eph. 2:10; 1 Jn. 5:18), and that by God's grace, none of those who are once justified will ever fall away from their faith and totally perish (Jn. 10:28-29; Rom. 8:30-39). Personally, I call this doctrine as "preservation of the saints" (by the way, many Baptists and Reformed Christians also use this term) to emphasize the involvement of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of the elect, but I don't have any problem calling it "perseverance of the saints," "once saved, always safe," or "eternal security." It's just a matter of preference. After all it is the content of the teaching which matters most, not the term that represents it.

Anyway, I was pondering over the sovereignty of God in preserving His saints and the different views concerning this subject yesterday night when I realized there's something fishy going on about the non-Calvinist Baptists' denial of the doctrines of grace. As you know, they hold to eternal security but reject the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace, and I find that somewhat inconsistent. Perhaps you already have an idea what I'm talking about, but let me explain further.

Non-Calvinist "Freewill" Baptists contend that God's grace isn't intrinsically efficacious, but it has its efficacy dependent on man's consent. Because God is a "Gentleman" and he "respects" our freewill, we are always free to reject or choose God. Men's choices are not driven by any form of necessity and they can do just whatever they wanna do with their own lives. This undetermined freedom, according to them, is possessed equally by all men - believers and unbelievers alike.

Now here's comes the dilemma for the non-Calvinist Baptist: If all men possess equal freedom between good and evil and God cannot control our choices, how can we affirm with certainty that nobody among those who genuinely trust in Christ will totally fall away and perish? If turning away from Christ remains an open possibility for Christians, how can there be any real eternal security? Conversely, if we firmly believe that nobody among those who are truly born again will totally and finally repudiate their faith in Christ (Heb. 10:38-39), we are in effect denying the idea of libertarian freedom. And if we confess it is God's grace which keeps believers from losing their faith and the final outcome is just that (1 Sa. 2:9; Psa. 40:11; Jn. 10:27-29; Rom. 8:30-39; 2 Tim. 1:12; Php. 1:6), what other kind of grace are we affirming except the Calvinistic grace?

My point here is very simple: There's no way one can consistently hold to Eternal Security, philosophically speaking, without denying libertarian freedom and affirming the invincibility of God's grace. Thus, non-Calvinist Baptists who reject the doctrine of sovereign grace are actually affirming it (unwittingly) every time they talk about eternal security!

That's how you reject the sovereignty of God in salvation while affirming it at the same time. Who does it better than the non-Calvinist Baptist?


  1. Your post on works was pretty good, talking about 'root' and 'fruit'. Then I saw you're OSAS. Psalm 69 speaks of blotting out names out of the book and Ezekiel 18 speaks of remembering not one's righteousness if they sin and do evil. How can anyone look at those two examples (among many, many others) and be OSAS? OSAS is a license to sin. Period. It's an insult to God; indirectly calling Him a liar.

    1. Hi Mr. Anonymous,
      Before I explain those "proof-texts" you appealed to, can you please feed my curiosity as to how did you come up with the conclusion that "OSAS is a license to sin"? Thanks.

    2. And can you please kindly state your name so I can address you properly? God bless.

  2. See, you remember when you got saved. Knowing that you're saved, using OSAS theology, you lose the fear of God. You're doomed. Whereas, using the biblical conditional election theology, you don't lose the fear of the Lord. - Mike

    1. Hi Mike,
      What made you think I lost the fear of God because of the doctrine of OSAS? To tell you honestly, I didn't quite get your point there.

      In Christ,

  3. My point was: why fear Him since you're saved and always will be according to your theology. Honestly, I can't understand how you don't see (as a whole) OSAS as a license to sin since reconciliation exists not in your theology once one is saved.

    Take care,


    1. Mike,
      Your point has no point at all. It's like you're saying: "Why fear our parents if we remain their children no matter what?" Such is a reasoning flowing from an obstinate heart. The reason we fear our parents is that they are our parents, the same way as we fear our Father in heaven because He is our Father.

      I can't imagine someone with a completely sane mind will come up with the conclusion that we possess license to disobey our parents on the ground that they remain our parents despite our disobeying them sometimes. Do you fear your parents, Mike? So do we. Do you fear your Father in Heaven? So do we.

      God bless.

    2. Mike,
      Below are some articles I wrote concerning the importance of sanctification in the life of a Christian,

      > What are good works for?
      > Prove your own selves!
      > Called and appointed to be holy

      Please find time to read them so you'd no longer be ignorant of what we believe. But if those won't suffice, your charge that grace gives us license to Sin should be silenced with these words from Paul:

      "Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? ARE WE TO CONTINUE IN SIN THAT GRACE MAY ABOUND? BY NO MEANS! HOW CAN WE WHO DIED TO SIN STILL LIVE IN IT?" (Rom. 5:20-6:2)

      So, how can we continue living in sin when we have already died in it and that we have God's law written in our hearts through the Holy Spirit indwelling us? Eternal security gives a TRUE Christian a firm ground for gratitude and service, not a license to Sin.

      Good day!

  4. No, Jeph, eternal security says that you don't have to repent if you sin. By the way, you never did "explain" Psalm 69 and Ezekiel 18 to me as I originally questioned. - Mike

    1. PART 1

      I don't know where did you get that information, but as someone who firmly believes in eternal security, I can tell you with all honesty that we don't do away the need of repentance from sins - even after conversion. In fact, we believe that the Christian life is a life of Repentance and Sanctification. We affirm that "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," and "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn. 1:8-9).

      The truth is, the version of eternal security that you oppose is NOT what mainstream OSAS-believers really hold. What you actually oppose is Antinomianism, or the belief that grace frees us from all moral obligation of God's law. That's NOT what we teach. What we teach is that a truly saved person, being under the Spirit's guidance and influence, walks in good works and is preserved by God in faith unto the end of his life. Please don't make a caricature of our doctrine (strawman) and impose that to us as if it's what we believe.

      About Psalms 69 and Ezekiel 18, I don't see any indication from those passages that a Christian is NOT eternally secured in Christ as clearly stated in John 10:27-29 and Romans 8:30-39.

      Psalms 69:28 is says, "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous." This isn't about taking away one's Salvation in Christ. This is about God taking away one's life here on earth, as context dictates.

      All human's names are recorded in the book of the living, as implied in Psalms 139:16 "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." It talks about our physical life. And since God is the author of our lives, He is also the one determines our death, which is the blotting out from the book of the living.

      This "book of the living", however, should not be confused with the "Lamb's book of life" in Rev. 21:27, which speaks of God's master-list of all the redeemed throughout the ages, whose names are "written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain" (Rev. 13:8).

      (to be cont.)

    2. PART 2

      Ezekiel 18 on the other hand speaks of the Law providing life to those who are righteous, and death to those who are wicked. But I ask, who is righteous enough that he is worthy to have life? The Law requires PERFECT obedience, and those fail to meet this standard are under curse (Deut. 11:26-28, 27:26; Gal. 3:10! In other words, the Law won't save anybody. It just shows how sinful we are. St. Paul wrote:

      "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Rom. 3:19-20)

      Ezekiel 18, therefore, does not tell us to try save ourselves by our works. On the contrary, it shows how sinful we are (knowing that we cannot keep up with its standards) so that we may feel the need of a Savior - which is Christ! Again, St. Paul wrote:

      "...yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." (Gal. 2:16)

      And again,

      "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." (Gal. 2:21)

      And again,

      "For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who does not abide BY ALL THINGS written in the Book of the Law, and do them.' Now that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith; and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. 3:11-13)

      If you're evangelical, you should know this already. The commandments, admonitions and prohibitions of the Law, with its promise of life for those who obey and curse for those who do not abide WITH ALL that is contained therein, are met in Christ in behalf of those who would believe in Him.

      "but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Gal. 4:4-5

      The Law doesn't tell us "you can make it! You can save yourself!" Instead it tells us, "You're doomed because of your sins!", and for this reason God has sent His Son to perfect the law and die on the cross in behalf of those who would believe Him, so that by faith they may be justified freely in God's sight.

      At the end of the day, Ezekiel 18 proves our case, because the Law is our "tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24).

      God bless.

  5. 1) You, yourself used "if we confess our sins..." So, in citing a passage using "if", you admit in order to receive forgiveness and cleansing you must repent when needed. Remember, "if" is conditional. "If" you confess, you receive cleansing. So it's quite apparent "if" you don't confess, you receive not cleansing. It's that simple. See, even a two year old can understand that "if" is conditional.
    2) Psalm 69:28 dictates taking away someone's life here on earth? You might want to go over that passage again, Jeph. How can not being enrolled among the righteous on earth have nothing to do with the afterlife?
    3) Can you say Ezekiel refers to the Law? I suppose. But the jist of it is more about God's righteous character (Old Covenant or New Covenant). a) It talks of turning from your sins and living even though the Law caused death on certain sins with two or three witnesses. b) It talks of remembering your sins no more even though Old Covenant sacrifices were constant reminders. So, to say it speaks of just the Law is obtuse.

  6. Mike,
    1) I don't see any problem with the provision of forgiveness for those who confess their sins (as stated in 1 Jn. 1:8-9). What made you think this violates our doctrine of eternal security?

    2) Wicked people on earth are a cause of headache to the righteous. David experienced that thorough his entire career as king. That's why in another Psalm, he wrote: "Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!" (Psa. 104:35)

    3) Who says the Law does not reflect God's righteous character? The biblical truth that the Law doesn't justify comes from the fact that it shows God's infinite righteousness and man's sinfulness. Again, any appeal to the Law to assail our eternal security in Christ is futile, because "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree' (Gal. 3:13); and again, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (Gal. 2:21). Why do you nullify the grace of God by citing the law as the basis of your salvation?

    In Christ,

  7. Yan ang doktrina ng mga tamad. maliwanag na galing kay satanas!

    1. Mr. Anonymous,

      I think you'll be surprised if I tell you that that's not what we actually believe. Please read this:

      Eternal Security and Licentiousness

      And by the way, please read our commenting rules so you'd not wonder why some/most/all of your future comments will not be posted here.

      God bless!



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