I have often said that it is easier to tell when someone is a true Christian than to tell when they are not. In other words, some people wear their convictions on their sleeve. The power of the Holy Spirit could not be more clearly visible. With these people, their passion, understanding, grace, humility, and faith are clearly evident in everything they do. I know and can state with a great degree of confidence that they trust in Christ and are saved. They are in the race and they are running. For others, however, it is more difficult to tell. They may say they are saved, but I do not have the same degree of confidence. They may be convinced, but I am not. I am not asserting they are not saved. I just don’t know. Some people live in a perpetual state of doubt, failure, and terrible sin. They may be in the race, but they are not running. However, even when they are at their worst, I cannot confidently say that they are not saved any more than I can say that the previous individuals are saved.

Many people contact me, because they are overwhelmed with the fear that they are not saved. They seek assurance from me that God has saved them. My background, training, and tradition all push me to reassure them in the attempt to alleviate their doubts and fears to the end that they are secure in their salvation and can never lose this security. After all, I believe that without security, we have never really embraced the fullness of the Gospel message.

However, there is a flip side to this coin. And it is this other side that I wish to address.

I have someone who I can’t figure out. Conversations with him are always very frustrating. I just want to crack his head open and see what is inside. I want to gaze where only God can see. I want to know if he really knows Christ. My heart says, “I hope!” but my mind says, “I don’t know. I doubt it.”

If you were to look at the life of this friend, you would not suspect that he has ever approached the throne room of God. You would not suspect that he has ever bowed humbly at the cross, understood his own condition, or asked the Lord for mercy. I have never seen him read his Bible, and I have never heard him honor Christ with his words. His life appears to be a never-ending pursuit of what the world has to offer. Moreover, this attitude shows evidence of trying to maintain complete control over his emotional state. Comforting him with spiritual talk is a seemingly futile exercise, especially when I receive a ridiculing gaze and awkward silence when I attempt to discuss the issue with him.

Yet, when push comes to shove, this guy will give me his testimony. Every once in a while he will tell me why I don’t need to be worried about his spiritual condition. He will confidently tell me of the time when he was twelve years old and walked the aisle at Church to accept the Gospel. Once his tale is complete, he has exhausted his ability to have a spiritual conversation and an awkward silence ensues.

Is this guy saved? Can it be that he sincerely walked the aisle so long ago, yet has not flexed a spiritual muscle since? Why is he so secure in his salvation?

In his office, there is one spiritual relic. It is an old piece of paper that hangs prominently by his desk entitled “The Believer’s Security.” On it are listed all of the passages of Scripture that give assurance that a believer cannot lose their salvation. This unqualified doctrine was something that he was taught immediately after his saving experience. This is what he banks on every day.

I have changed quite a bit over the years with regards to the doctrine often called “eternal security” or “once saved, always saved.” Don’t start squirming, fellow Calvinists, there are not many things I believe in more strongly than the ultimate security of salvation. But I do believe there are some people who may need to squirm. I believe there are some people whose eternal destiny depends on their own insecurity.

I am going to tell the “Parable of the Race.” You may have heard it before, but I am going to modify it somewhat for our purposes.

“In a town of ultimate boredom called Mundane, there was a great announcement. It was the announcement of a race. A great race that all could enter. A race that would rescue them from boredom. Most people did not believe that such an event would be held in Mundane so they scoffed. Others immediately prepared with great enthusiasm and joy.

Both the scoffers and the enthusiasts arrived at the appointed place on the day of the race. The scoffers sat and watched while the others prepared to run by stretching and making sure their shoes were tied. They lined up, looking ahead with the intensity, fear, and excitement that accompanied such an event.

The gun sounded and off they went. Yet something very curious and unexplainable happened. They all stopped running after they had passed the starting line. Not only this, but they acted very peculiar. One person fell on his knees crying, thanking God that he crossed the starting line. Others gave each other high fives and hugs, as they shouted, “Hooray, we are now race runners, we are now race runners.” Some shook hands and congratulated each other. One group relaxed and complemented one another on how well they crossed the starting line. Five or six others all gathered together and formed a prayer circle. They prayed that others would cross the starting line as they had.

Many others wanted to experience this joy so they decided to start the race as well. They were immediately stopped by the well-wishers who had started before them. They decided to stay as well. After a few days, there were people handing out pamphlets along with a certificate to all those who crossed the starting line. The pamphlet told them that once they had started the race they were guaranteed to finish. The certificate was to recognize their achievement in finishing the race even before they finished. It became very high on the agenda of all the race runners to make sure that people who had started knew of their assurance of completion. So much so that there was a printing press built right at the starting gate which produced millions of the pamphlets.

After a few months, there were so many who had crossed the starting line that they decided to build a town right there. They called this town “Starting Line Village.”

The spectators were confused. “I thought a race had to be finished,” they said to one another. They interviewed the people of Starting Line Village. “Why did you start the race and not continue?” they would ask. This made the people of Starting Line Village very uncomfortable. They would immediately show their certificate saying that they were guaranteed to finish. When people would encourage them to run the rest of the race, they would be ridiculed for not trusting the pamphlet. They were called legalists and were accused of trusting too much in their own ability to finish the race rather than the words on the pamphlet.

Finally, many of the watchers in the crowd became fed up with those in Starting Line Village and decided to run the race themselves with the intent to finish. They refused the certificates and left the people of Starting Line Village to hand out the pamphlets alone.”

This parable illustrates a problem that we have in the church today. There are many people who are very comfortable in the profession of faith they made so long ago. So comfortable, in fact, that they never make any further moves in their walk with God. Like my friend, they rely upon the “once saved, always saved” doctrine that they were taught immediately upon conversion. They have crossed the starting line, but are definitely not running the race.

I don’t have a problem with teaching “once saved, always saved,” but I think we need to qualify it a great deal. I know, qualifying our own security seems very counterproductive. Let me be plain and clear. The doctrine of God’s grace is radical. It is absolutely radical. It is unbelievably radical. God gives us an unspeakable gift free of charge. We don’t owe God anything for it. It is not on layaway. In fact, it would be very offensive to God for us to even try to pay for it. It is priceless. Yet this gift, from a human point of view, is received by faith. Faith is the evidence of our salvation. It is the instrumental cause of our salvation. Faith is the evidence that we have entered the race. But what we fail to emphasize is often more destructive to the Christian faith than not telling the Gospel at all. We fail to tell people that there is a false kind of faith. There is a faith that crosses the starting line, but never completes the race. There is a faith that does not save.

Paul encourages the Corinthians:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

The author of Hebrews says:

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” (Heb. 4:1)

In Revelation, only those who overcome are promised eternal life:

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7; emphasis mine)

James speaks about a faith that does not save:

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (Jam. 2:14)

Remember in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, there are three types of seeds that sprout (start the race), but only one truly takes root (finishes the race).

And time will fail us if we try to recount all the false prophets of false hope in the Old Testament. These are the ones who were continually telling the Israelites of their own security when destruction was right around the corner.

I believe that once a person is truly saved, he or she will never lose that salvation. Yet I think we need to warn people that not all faith is true faith.

If you have crossed the starting line, great! Bravo, hooray, and congrats. But from a human point of view, this does not guarantee that you will cross the finish line. I am sorry, but I do no service to you by trying to immediately tell you that your faith is true. I don’t know if it is. The doctrine is not really called “Once Saved, Always Saved,” but is more accurately described as “Perseverance of the Saints.” I think  we need to get away from calling it “once saved, always saved.” I don’t like it. From God’s point of view, your salvation is protected. You are his child, elect of God, and nothing can change that. But from our perspective, you are his child if you are trusting in him. Is your faith persevering? It is not about whether you can recount a time in the past when you trusted him once. It is about whether or not you are in his family and are trusting him now. We are called believers, not because we believed, but because we believe.

We all need to question whether or not our faith is the kind of faith that saves. We do a great disservice to the Gospel when we make it our top priority to immediately alleviate any anxiety or doubt of salvation in those who profess faith. We may be giving them a false sense of security that they will take to their grave. This may be what happens to my friend. I fear the worst. On the day of judgment, will he say “Lord, Lord, didn’t I cross the starting line? Wasn’t I a race runner?” only to hear Jesus respond, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

There is a healthy tension concerning our salvation that should follow us our entire Christian walk.

If you are saved, part of the Gospel message is that you can be assured of your salvation (1 John 5:13). God wants you to know it. However, I don’t want anyone to be assured of something that is not true. Unfortunately, I believe there are a lot of people who are.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    154 replies to "This Calvinist’s Problem with “Once Saved, Always Saved”"

    • cherylu

      Fr Robert,

      The problem seems to be that there are people that actually seem to argue that sanctification is not necessary. They eliminate that from the equation and basically say that if we are justified, all is forever well. Sanctification is an intrinsic part of what God does for us. We can’t just pick and choose which parts of “the package”we think are good and right and are willing to accept!

    • MarvinTheMartian

      @ David

      Given that you quote 1 John 3:6 as a proof text for your claim that the “true Christian does not continue sinning”, just what exactly do you do with 1 John 1-9 (especially verse 8)? You must realize that John was writing to believers in this epistle (see 1 john 2:1). Given your interpretation, how do you square John up, or what do you do with Romans 7 for that matter?

    • Lee

      There are some good verses used to justify the calvinist’s belief on election, such as Romans 9. I was really having a hard time dealing with the belief that God chooses only certain people, not giving everyone the chance to believe. I just happened to watch a “touching lives” episode with one of my favorite preachers, and he just happened to mention this verse 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” I really am enjoying the theology program. Thanks for not trying to sway towards one theology, and just give the evidence so we can gain the knowledge, and pray for the truth.

    • Irene


      This is a very good point. On “paper” many people and churches will talk about sanctification and where it belongs (not singling you out, Fr Robert, just speaking generally here), but in practice, you don’t see or hear much about it. Actually, discussion of and preaching about sanctification seems to be, in effect, discouraged because
      1) it might interfere with people’s “proper” understanding of justification. And it seems it cannot be hammered into people’s brains hard enough that they are worms.
      And 2), I think, because sanctification is not well defined in Protestant churches. In other words, what is proper moral behavior? In regard to worship? Sexuality? Stewardship? Obedience? Is there an ideal, is there black and white, or is it all relative? Is there a countercultral backbone in the
      Protestant church? Or is it all “that really doesn’t matter anyway” ?

      So, that’s why I think sanctification gets put on the back burner and forgotten about.

      Some of this, maybe, has to do with lack of leadership from the Protestant church? Take the example of the guy in the original post. He’s obviously not feeling any pressure from the church.
      If he has a pastor, should that pastor/church discipline or pressure this guy? What is the role of the Protestant church in sanctification, anyway? Patiently wait and watch for rain, because its “out of our control”? Or something else?

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. It is also something positional in the sense that God has already sanctified us, meaning that He has set us apart for His own use. Thus, sanctification is both a positional thing (what we are in Christ) and an ongoing process (one that ends when we go home to be with Him). Positional sanctification occurs when God regenerates us and grants us repentance. The sanctification process picks up from there and proceeds to make us the holy that God has already declared us to be in Christ.

    • Amen here “Chancellor”, I thought for a moment I was hearing good old John Murray again! 😉 Btw, Murray was born in Scotland, and received most of his theological training there, (both Glasgow and Edinburg, as I remember?) Rock on! 🙂

    • Irene

      The ongoing process toward holiness aspect (not the positional aspect) is what I was asking about.

    • And btw, anyone that knows anything about classic historical Calvinism (especially outside of the US), knows it has always preached both Justification & Sanctification! John Calvin certainly did, as too his Genevan Refomers: Theodore Beza and Francis Turretin! See for a modern example Geerhardus Vos’s book: The Pauline Eschatology (I believe its still in print?). But one wonders today, if modern so-called Calvinists still read people like the Genevan Reformers? Much less people who don’t understand historical Calvinism!

    • @Irene: The good “Chancellor” spoke about both! Thus my quote about John Murray who also did most definitively (biblically-theologically)! Oh would that people could and would read John Murray today!

    • Irene

      I have no particular argument with prominent Reformation era men concerning sanctification. I do think, though, that modern Protestant churches have left the faithful floundering in terms of sanctification. –in real life matters . (I would believe there is enough written theoretically on the place and nature of sanctification. )
      It almost seems as if it’s a “that’s God’s department” disposition, as if the church is being too judgemental or overstepping her bounds if she directs sanctification too much. I guess that’s my question: Doesn’t the church have a responsibility in the sanctification of the faithful, and is the modern Protestant church sometimes neglectful of this?
      Example: how should the man in CMP’s original post be approached by the church?

      Just a note: the Catholic Church, also, certainly has a problem with fallen-away, or non-practicing, members. (I suppose they would be the equivalent). It’s a problem everywhere. Different causes though, and apparently different approaches.

    • Irene

      @Fr Robert
      ” Oh would that people could and would read John Murray today!”

      Oh, that people would READ today! (:

    • Cynthia

      I would say that protestant churches rely on preaching/ teaching, bible studies, support/prayer groups, and rightly participating in the lords supper to encourage the on going process of sanctification (there are probably more, but that what comes to mind immediately.

      But the church is not solely responsible for the sanctification of its members. I don’t think that is being suggested here, but too many people do rely on the church to feed into them a life changing relationship with God when, in reality, it is, 1) experiencing God and 2)the work you do outside the church that really changes you.

      Also, I think the idea of deification/theosis should be explored maybe even more than the idea of sanctification. The difference b/w the two can be subtle but to me there is something beautiful about being so unified with Christ that we begin to take on his characteristics. I have heard many sermons on the need to “be holy or sanctified” but rarely have I heard one that explores theosis. Yes, being like Jesus, but not theosis. I could be way off base. This is just a new exciting concept for me and I am still thinking it through

    • John B

      Father Robert

      the “second causes” arguement is merely put forth in the Westminster Confession to make the illogical system of Calvinism seem logical, No, rather to make it pallitable and get God “off the hook”. “God is the cause of everything, but not really” says the Calvinist. The Calvinist wants to have it both ways, and that is why most philosophers and apologist are not Calvinists. If God only foreknows that which He preordained then how did he foreknow that I would sin today. Perhaps a simplistic example, but hey, I am a simple guy.

    • Cynthia

      Perhaps the idea of free will vs predestination is in the category of the trinity in terms of human ability to fully understand it. maybe we should come to a place where we can agree that Calvinism and armenianism both bear truth… and maybe let the rest go.

    • @John B: The “second causes” aspect is part of logic, reasoning and thinking! Something which the EO are sometimes hard against, on many subjects theological! Btw, I took my line from the Irish Articles 1615, not the Westminster, though of course they are similar.

      And I can see that logic is not your forte! 😉

      And one guy you should check out, as to both historical theology and philosophy in Calvinism, is the great Richard Muller. He is a year older than me is all. And oh yes, another would be the great statesman of Reformed Theology, and that is of course R.C. Sproul! RC has even written a whole book, on the contingency of second causes.

      *And the Calvinists have always had their good share of philosophers, note Herman Dooyeweerd, the man behind Van Til!

    • @Irene: Strange, but I have always felt to some degree that the RCC has sort of left her members and flock “floundering” actually. Eating the Eucharist simply must be combined with “sacramental” preaching! As Emil Brunner said: “The revelation of God must be “told”, not “taught”! The point is the “kerygma” is or signifies not the action of the preacher, but that which he preaches, i.e. his “message”. And here is the historical Gospel itself, which is “Christ”! Surely Apostolic Preaching was “Christ Himself”! HE is in preaching the Royal Sacrament Himself, both the “Logos” and the “Rhema”!

      “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the “preaching-message” preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1: 21) Literally, it is the message of “Jesus Christ.. publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3: 1) It is here that Word & Sacrament should run together!

      I have quite noted this at times, at both the pulpit & the altar! And I must confess Luther has been very helpful for me in both!

    • Chancellor Roberts

      Fr. Robert, Chancellor is my first name; I don’t have a title.

      I’m quite familiar with John Murray (his book, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin was particularly good).

      It’s easy to forget that while the Perseverance (Preservation) of the Saints is God’s doing, we are still commanded in scripture to do such things as “put off,” “put on,” “put away,” etc. It’s part of the paradox of divine sovereignty and human responsibility that even many Calvinists struggle with.

    • John B

      Ah Robert my loquacious friend, you so typify calvinist humility!:) No one understands calvinist logic unless God reveals it to them. Or “read this book by RC Sproul” of course assuming that I couldn’t have possibly read his work because If I had I would agree with his conclusions. Robert, the disagreements between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinists cannot be summed up in one or two blog entreess. However, I do attempt to bring the esoteric nature of calvinist into the practical real world and in doing so I am often considered naive, but I am a married man so I am use to criticism. Calvinism is only logical if you discuss its parts in isolation. The implications of election cannot be mixed with man’s choice because one or the other agrument must logically fall apart: but of course only in my flawed view of logic. And the same tension exists with santification. Unfortunately, you have the greatest logic tool in the calvinist arsenal – MYSTERY! Why do you cry mystery,?, maybe because logic does not apply? It is amusing to see the calvinist preach on God’s soveriengty and then on man’s freedom while never attempting to reconcile the two. Ah, but who needs to wrestle with such things when we have MYSTERY and the great confessions. Take none of my comments personally, my father actually raised men who can take a jab or two!

    • David

      @marvin the martian,

      Oh dear where do i start?? I’m very well aware that i HAVE sin, as im sure we all can readily admit. However to have sin, and to commit sin are two entirely different things- this is sundayschool basics. The fact that we get tempted is proof enough that we have sin and we know that in our flesh dwells no good thing.

      Concerning Romans 7, When Romans 7 talks about doing what i hate, it is not talking about works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19, as it is describing a man who serves the law of God with his mind (Romans 7v25).
      The sin you reference to in Romans 7:18-21 is a deed which the sin in your flesh has forced you to do as you were not mature enough, strong enough and spiritual enough to resist it- a deed of the body, (romans 8:13)
      How to eliminate deeds of the body? Put them to death by the Spirit.
      The more we continue in this the more the body of sin will be done away with.
      A lot could be written on this gloriously liberating topic.

    • @John: There is nothing at all illogical about “mystery”, the biblical word is “musterion” (Gk.), and St. Paul used it quite often. It really in its biblical sense involves that which is outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, that can be made only by Divine revelation. Here we see such words as “manifested,” “revealed,” and “economy,” “dispensation”. These are the English words used in translation. And indeed one of my favorite Texts by Paul is in 1 Cor. 4: 1, where Paul uses the word “musterion” in a most comprehensive way:

      “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Surely “mystery” is absolutely central in Calvinism! And note Calvin was quite an Augustinian, as too was Luther and most of the top-tier Reformers! Indeed Augustine was one of the first and most profound theologically to seek to understand Paul’s great Sovereign Gospel!

      So just as in the mystery of the contingency of the second causes, we find the “transcendent” and the “immanent” aspect of God in His own Creation and creatures. And here God is always simply His own Sovereign!

      “The mystery (“mysterion”) which has been hidden from past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints.” (Col. 1: 26), as too verse 27.

      Btw, I know really that it is not at all “amusing”, but the doctrine of God Almighty In Christ, Who knows and does all things for His own transcendent purpose and glory: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11: 36)

    • John B

      Just be careful when you cry “illogical” when your very doctrine is at its heart illogical, thus the “tension” and the need to have creeds that say “A” is true and by the way so is “not-A”. A position is easy to adhere to and defend when there is a fallback position that does not require one to deal with the practical implications of said position.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      @ David

      What you need to be aware of is that not only do you have Sin, but do in fact continue sinning too.

      Now I need to be clear that I am not championing sin here. As Paul would say, God forbid. But the fact is we need the continual cleansing spoken of in 1 John 1:9 because we all continue to commit sin, even after we are born again. Your doctrine that the true Christian doesn’t commit sin anymore is simply not supported by the totality of scripture.

    • theoldadam

      It is a process. we continually walk away from Him. From our Baptisms.

      We do need to be kept in faith. Lest we “lose ourselves”.

    • David


      It is nearly impossible to comprehend that when we repent from the heart, God is willing to forgive us our sins- the love and kindness he displayed to us while we were still sinners is hard to fathom.

      However God sees the heart- our attitude, and if a beginner on the way happens to fall, he jumps up, asks for forgiveness and keeps going. But it’s not the intention that the occasional fall at the start of someone’s christian walk becomes a regular occurance!

      As we see from the verse after the one you mentioned in 1 john 2:1 my little children, these things i write to you so that you may not sin-

      In other words, to fall in sin should be the exception, not some daily routine that we just choose to accept as part of our christian life.

      But unless you can see the difference between a work of the flesh and a deed of the body, ypur judgement will be clouded and it is pointless for me to keep explaining my position, as it is a person’s attitude of mind which determines which of these 2 occured.

      The deeds of the body aren’t carried out by the new mind, as that serves God’s law and the will of God. It is sin that dwells in me, taking me captive and forcing me to do what i hate. Now when both God and myself hate it, we are in agreement on the issue- in this way im putting to death this deed of the body by the Spirit and will live.
      There isnt any condemnation for these deeds of the body, and since im walking in the light, the blood of Jesus can cleanse me (1 john 1:7).

      However you can’t say that someone who knowingly commits sin (ie works of the flesh) is walking in the light as He is in the light.

    • @John B: Let me recommend perhaps the best book I have seen in a very long time, on Logic, i.e. Logic, A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought, by the Neo-Reformed, Vern Poythress. This book will I believe become almost classic for students. (733 pages worth!) If I were still teaching Philosophy, this would be a Text I would also use. Note, Western Philosophy uses some math in logic. And here btw Poythress has a Ph.D. from Princeton in math.

      *Note to my mind, this area is the greatest weakness of the EO! St. Paul was both a Jewish Hellenist, and of course a Greco-Roman. And of course too Western Philosophy is more toward the Roman!

    • Btw, Amen there “MarvinTheMarian”, Sin is always with/in the believer until death or resurrection! (Rom. 7: 13-25) Note this was also Augustine’s later position!

    • David

      Ah yes @fr robert, you’re on the same page when it concerns the body of sin we carry until the day we die.
      The disturbing thing is (as you have previously posted) that you let your old man down from the cross every now and then and allow him to win a few battles instead of keeping him crucified their by faith in the power of the cross! (Romans 6:6)

      John 8:34 Jesus answered and said to them, “most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin..

      1 john 3:6 whoever abides in Him does not sin

    • @david: In reality, “the old man” gets the best of all of us sometimes, whether we are conscious of it or not! And oh yes, “my old man” is very proud, and likes to think of himself as a tough old guy! Manhood was a big deal in my generation! 😉 (And I admit it still is!)

      Btw, many of the verses you quote are simply out of context! Thankfully “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2: 1) This is really the essence of 1 John, both the Person & Work of Christ!! That Christ is our Mediator and our “Satisfaction” (for sin & sins) before God the Father! (verse 2)

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Honestly this is a topic I could go on and on about because I struggle with addiction, but I do not wish to go round and round any further regarding whether or not a “true Christian” can still commit sin. My hope is that it is the case (that a Christian will still struggle with sin, i.e committing sin), otherwise I am lost.

      I know that my sin grieves the heart of God, and that grieves me. Yet it serves to continually remind me that I am still a man in need of a Savior and in Him is my ONLY hope for my salvation for there is truly nothing good that is in me (in my flesh). Of this truth I am wholeheartedly convinced. Yet I still struggle. I still war against my flesh in the hopes that my deliverance will come. Though admittedly at times I don’t put up as much of a fight as I should, or I get caught off guard, but regardless I still sin.

      May God have mercy on me.

    • Lothars Sohn

      John Loftus is a Christian apostate whose behavior was not distinguishable of that from any fellow Calvinists.
      Now he has been predetermined by God to be a militant atheist,

      If God can act like that, why could you yourself not be a pawn in the chess-game whose God has preordained to betray Him?

      Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


    • David

      @ marvin the martian, from the description you give, it definetely does not sound like committing sin. To commit sin means to live in it, then you can’t fall. But when we are walking on the way, then it is possible to fall, however our attitude and mindset is still to do the good.
      When we want to do God’s will, but sin anyway because of innattention (being caught off guard) or slackness, that can be described as a fall.
      The difference between committing sin is that I regret what i have done and stand up again.

      My personal testimony is that by God’s power in the Holy Spirit, i have been set free from sin which once held me captive, but it didnt happen without suffering in the flesh.

      So if you get hold of that Spirit, and obey when it points out the sacrifices in your life, it is sure to go well.

      Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

      1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

    • David

      @fr robert: in reality, the crucifixion of our old man, which Jesus accomplished on calvary, must be made a reality in all of us!

      What is meant by our “old man”?? Just this: that our mind agrees with and is bound to that which we know is sin; and our body carries it out.

      @ fr robert, how would you define the old man?

    • @david: It is a reality for all of us, but only accomplished by both Justification and Sanctification ‘In Christ’, in and by faith. And the latter is both a one-time effect (before God), and an ongoing affection (and effect) in our Christian lives and growth!

      The “old man” is our “old nature”. But we see this also in Col. 3: 1-3, etc. In verse 5 we can see that this old nature, is still somewhat bound in our members which are still upon the earth, and that lasts as long as we are alive on earth! (See too Gal. 5: 7 thru 25, i.e. Walking in the Spirit, we must press for it daily!)

      Sorry, this is rather quick… long day for me at the hospital!

    • David

      @ fr robert, we obviously hold different views on what the old man is, me stating that it is the old mindset that wanted to sin, where as you say it is the old nature. Your description, to me seems to bear more resemblance to “the body of sin”.

      With that said, i respectfully agree to disagree with your views on the topic and will leave it at that, as i find it impossible to discuss further due to our vastly different understandings of key expressions surrounding this essential subject.

    • @david: Of course it would not be an issue for the Christian, if he could never still sin, but Paul knew that the Christian was still living in both a fallen world, and with a new nature, yet still with the old nature able to raise his ugly head! Indeed only the New Man or Nature ‘In Christ’ can dethrone the Old man or nature! But it always “Christ Jesus” Himself: Risen, Ascended, the Mediator!

    • theoldadam

      Sinner in fact…saint by faith.

    • @TOA: Amen! I think of 2 Cor. 4: 6-7 here. (note too verses 13-15, etc.) A living, breathing “spirit of faith”! – Always “the gift of God”! (Eph. 2: 8)

    • David

      @fr robert,

      Don’t forget to quote ” in context”- lets include:

      2 corinthians 4:10 and verse 11
      always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
      And let’s not ignore ephesians 2:10 while we are in that neighbourhood:
      For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

      And just incase there are some silent observers out there who think Jesus died so everyone could keep on living a sinful life ill throw in the following:

      2 corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

      Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

      Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

      Romans 1:5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,

      Romans 16:26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to faith..

      To conclude: many people will be saved (ie receive the forgiveness of sins) but few want to give up everyrhing and become His disciple.

    • @david: Indeed the context of 2 Cor. 4: 7 thru 12, etc. surely includes verses 10-11, but this is not something we do to ourselves, but the work of the Spirit of God in us…”so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” And this quite involves suffering, as we note further in 2 Cor. 16-17, etc. Only God In Christ can crucify the “old man” or nature. And as we can see from verses 16-17-18, this continues till death, or resurrection…”so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.” (Verse 4)… (chapter 5: 1-5, etc.)

    • And we don’t become “disciples” of Christ by “giving up something”, but by “faith” In Christ! Works have their place, but they always only follow on “faith” in Christ, as Eph. 2: 10…”which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” But as the front of the verse: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus..” Indeed this is the Pauline Revelation!

    • Many of the people that comment here on Calvinism, don’t have a clue to its proper and historical belief. As for sure Calvinism is not a historical single monolith, but does have some variations. For that one must simply do some theological homework! That’s what the P&P is about to some degree. And though I don’t follow some aspects of the P&P on several issues and places, one should read what they believe!

    • David

      It appears to me that certain people commenting are resolute in their endeavour to refuse to accept the scripture verses as they are written. To me it is becoming more and more obvious that they would rather adjust God’s Word to suit their own predetermined ideas and beliefs, instead of the opposite, which would be to accept the Word and adjust one’s life and beliefs accordingly.

      They wholeheartedly reject every scripture that mentions anything resembling to cleanse oneself, purify oneself, deny oneself; or they attempt to explain it away, stating that these things are only to be done in faith or in spirit (ie imaginary).

      It doesn’t take a genius to realize that in most cases, this is due to the simple fact that they have something in their lives which they think is worth hanging onto for dear life.

      Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

    • @david: I am going to guess your maybe in your 20’s or early 30’s? Zeal is nice, but it must be a zeal according to both God’s knowledge and doctrine! (Rom. 10: 2-3)

      I am almost 64, and have been a Christian by God’s grace for over 45 years! I am just “hanging” on to Jesus and His grace & mercy, thanks be to God! 🙂

    • Thanks for this post. Since then I have been looking upon a relationship with Jesus as possibly a two-step process. First, come unto Me and be saved. Second, give up your right to yourself and follow Me. I tend to agree with some who say that there a lot of Christians who only buy into the “fire escape” clause of Christianity, and never become full-fledged followers of Jesus.

    • Ken Weatherl

      Could it be we are confusing faith in something I’ve done, (ie a profession, prayer, making Jesus Lord, walking the isle) with belief in Jesus, trusting in Jesus work alone. Being in youth work for many years I’ve constantly heard “I prayed the prayer or I went forward”. Believing “Trusting” Jesus is different than trusting something I’ve done.

    • Steve

      How many sins are too many? Necessity always makes this part of the discussion. There really are at least 2 or 3 arguments. 1) Can a person change his mind and reject God after they were a ” believer” or 2) is there a point where God says you are sinning too much so good bye, and 3) we could ask “will he ever take one back”?
      Sorry David but you may be implying that a sinless life is necessary, if not you must be pushing an almost sinless one. Where do YOU draw the line, 3 a day. Part of my faith is based on God’s salvation because I can’t lead a sinless life.
      Perhaps people have more important things to consider when we think of the narrow gate mentioned earlier. Let me present for your consideration. John 4 v 22 Ye worship ye know not what. We know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.(Jesus speaking) and Deut 6 v 4. Hear O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, or YHWH God YHWH one.
      The “Jews” God is the right God (we know what we worship) he is YHWH and he is a uni personal God ,not a Trinity. The Jews including Jesus did not believe their God (YHWH) was a Trinity (Mark 12 v 29) and it seems that Jesus was saying they definitely had that part right. Maybe this would be a more important subject for Christians to prove to themselves. Again, the old Testament Jew’s did not believe in a God that was a Trinity.

    • The doctrine and dogma of the Trinity of God is most surely a NT Revelation, and even there it took the church into the 2nd and 3rd century to finally get a good theological understanding of it. With both Tertullian and Origen who gave us the language and categories of theology to elucidate that which we simply had not before, and of course the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople have really given us that face of the great dogmatic place of God Triune and the Trinity.

    • Btw, the non-Trinitarians are simply both historically and theologically dead in the water! If true Christianity is anything, it is Trinitarian! And thankfully most Messianic Jews are Trinitarian, noting that the great doctrine of the Deity of Christ leads them into it! (Eph. 2: 18)

      *Note I lived and taught in Israel in the latter 90’s. And yes, I am pro-Israel and a “biblical” Zionist (since about 1993, not too long after I fought in Gulf War 1 as an RMC… Yes, this was a major life experience for me! Which also effected my everything, and certainly my thinking and theology!)

    • Steve

      Dead in the water. Would you be referring to the first Anabaptists some of whom were anti Trinitarian and had the pleasure of receiving a third baptism (drowned), by Trinitarians of course.

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