Predestination or Freewill Part 7: Can a True Believer Fall ever from Grace and Perish?

Hebrews 3:14
         For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence unto the end.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): If believing depends on free-will, then our perseverance depends on it also. For if the man’s free-will changes, he may fall back, and break his neck, in a manner, at the very threshold of heaven.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There are in the world certain people who teach that Christ gives grace to men, and then tells them, “Now, you shall be saved if you will persevere; but this must be left to yourself.”

ADAM CLARKE: The words [of Hebrews 3:14] strongly imply, as indeed does the whole epistle, the possibility of falling from the grace of God and perishing everlastingly…Having believed in Christ as the promised Messiah, and embraced the whole Christian system, they were consequently made partakers of all its benefits in this life, and entitled to the fulfillment of all its exceeding great and precious promises relative to the glories of the eternal world. The former they actually possessed, and the latter they could have only in case of their perseverance; therefore the apostle says, If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end―meaning―to the end of our life. For our participation of glory depends on our continuing steadfast in the faith, to the end of our Christian race. If this were not held fast to the end, Christ, in His saving influences, could not be held fast; and no Christ, no heaven. He who has Christ in him, has the well-founded hope of glory; and he who is found in the great day with Christ in his heart, will have an abundant entrance into eternal glory.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): If we hold fast our faith unto the end. If―but not else.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is not your hold of Christ that saves, but His hold of you.

ADAM CLARKE: Here is the second case. Can a man who was once holy and pure fall away so as to perish everlastingly? Yes. When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity…for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die, Ezekiel 18:26―And He tells us, that a man may so “turn away from this,” and so “commit iniquity,” and “act as the wicked man,” that his righteousness shall be no more mentioned to his account, than the sins of the penitent backslider should be mentioned to his condemnation; and “in the sin that he” this once righteous man, “hath sinned, and in the trespass that he hath trespassed, in them shall he die”…So then, God Himself informs us that a righteous man may not only fall foully, but fall finally.

JOHN WESLEY: On [that] authority, I believe a saint may fall away; that one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God Himself may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly…A child of God, that is, a true believer (for he that believeth is born of God,) while he continues a true believer, cannot go to hell. But, if a believer make shipwreck of the faith, (I Timothy 1:19) he is no longer a child of God. And then he may go to hell, yea, and certainly will, if he continues in unbelief. If a believer may make shipwreck of the faith, then a man that believes now may be an unbeliever some time hence; yea, very possibly, tomorrow; but, if so, he who is a child of God today, may be a child of the devil tomorrow. For, God is the Father of them that believe, so long as they believe. But the devil is the father of them that believe not, whether they did once believe or no.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Can these men fancy Infinite Tenderness so unconcerned as to let the apple of His eye be plucked out, as to be a careless Spectator of the pillage of His jewels by the powers of Hell, to have the delight of His soul―if I may so speak, tossed like a tennis ball between himself and the Devil?

C. H. SPURGEON: This reminds me of an old Puritanical illustration: “The Duke of Alva having given some prisoners their lives, they afterwards petitioned him for some food. His answer was that ‘he would grant them life but no meat.’ And they were famished to death.” The deniers of [Calvinistic] final perseverance represent the Deity in a similar view. ‘God promises eternal life to the saints if they endure to the end,’ but He will not secure to them the continuance of that grace without which eternal life cannot be had!―Unless our God who first saves us did engage to keep us alive and to provide for all our necessities, of what use were eternal life at all?

ADAM CLARKE: There shall be nothing lacking on God’s part to support you; and to make you wise, holy and happy; and bring you at last to His kingdom and glory.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): All our progress and perseverance are from God.

ADAM CLARKE: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure, Philippians 2:12,13. Every holy purpose, pious resolution, good word, and good work, must come from Him; [but] ye must be workers together with Him, that ye receive not His grace in vain; because He worketh in you, therefore work with Him, and work out your own salvation. The power to will and the power to act must necessarily come from God, who is the author both of the soul and body, and of all their powers and energies, but the act of volition and the act of working come from the man. God gives power to will, man wills through that power; God gives power to act, and man acts through that power. Without the power to will, man can will nothing; without the power to work, man can do nothing. God neither wills for man, nor works in man’s stead, but He furnishes him with power to do both.

JOHN WESLEY: The true predestination, or fore-appointment of God is, ‘He that believeth shall be saved from the guilt and power of sin. He that endureth to the end shall be saved eternally.’ They who receive the precious gift of faith, thereby become the sons of God; and, being sons, they shall receive the Spirit of holiness to walk as Christ also walked. Throughout every part of this appointment of God, promise and duty go hand in hand. All is free gift; and yet such is the gift, that the final issue depends on our future obedience to the heavenly call. But other predestination than this, either to life or death eternal, the Scripture knows not of.

C. H. SPURGEON: Will you please to remember that if you look to creature strength it is utterly impossible that you should persevere in grace, even for ten minutes, much less for ten years! If your perseverance depends upon yourself you are a lost man. You may write that down for a certainty…But remember, you have already been kept these months and these years: what has done that? Why, divine grace; and the divine grace that has held you on for one year can hold you on for a century, nay, for an eternity, if it were necessary. He that has begun can carry on and must carry [it] on too, otherwise He were false to his promise and would deny Himself.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): If the final perseverance of the saints be a delusion, then one must close his Bible and sit down in despair…If left entirely to themselves believers would perish. Temptations and tribulations from without and corruptions from within would prove too strong for them, and therefore does Christ make intercession on their behalf, that God would grant them such supplies of grace and pardoning mercy that they will be preserved from total apostasy…Apart from the renewing and sustaining power of God—[they] would assuredly perish under the corruptions of the flesh and the assaults of the Devil.


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