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Calvinism's TULIP: Perseverance of the Saints

 June 12, 2011

John Calvin's followers developed an acronym called TULIP to explain their five basic tenets. It uses the first letters from Total Depravity (also known as Original Sin), Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, (also known as Particular Atonement), Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved, Always Saved). I have already addressed other points in the TULIP list. This lesson looks at the erroneous doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints.

Bernie Parsons 

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Calvinism’s TULIP: Perseverance Of The Saints

By Bernie Parsons


Presented to Globe church of Christ on 06-12-2011

Presented to Load church of Christ on 06-19-2011



The fifth and final point of Calvinism is the “P” in the TULIP acronym, known as Perseverance of the Saints - also known as “once in grace, always in grace”. They teach that a person chosen by God for salvation can never lose that salvation. They invoke the following scriptures: John 10:27-28, John 6:47, Romans 8:1, 1 Corinthians 10:13, and Philippians 1:6, each out of context.


John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."


John 6:47 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."


In the fuller context, these were rebukes to the disbelieving, not an explanation of salvation.


Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."


In Romans 8:1, as we have previously studied, in its context, the apostle Paul was explaining that salvation comes through faith in Christ, rather than keeping the Law of Moses.


1 Corinthians 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."


Paul warned the Corinthians not to sin. In fact, in verse 12, we find the refutation of what the Calvinists claim is found in verse 13, in which they argue that salvation can never be lost!


1 Corinthians 10:12 "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."


Calvinists say that verse 13 assures that one will never fall because God protects from temptation. The context is that a way of escape is made, not that God forces you to take it.


Hebrews 4:11 "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."


Luke 8:13 "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away."


One can fall away during temptation, contrary to the Calvinist claim.


Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"


The above verse is no explanation of God’s method of salvation. Rather, these were words of encouragement to continue doing right, until the end. The apostle Paul said that he was “confident”, not certain, that God would continue to perform good works in them until the end.


Perseverance comes from the root word persevere, the root of which literally means “through severity”, as in “persisting through opposition and discouragement”, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.  If God has pre-elected us for salvation, what is there to overcome?


As with the other four points of Calvinism, this “once saved, always saved”, “cannot fall from grace” doctrine is erroneous. Remember the lessons leading up to these on Calvinism? I studied with you from 2 Peter 1: 1-11. Note verses 10 and 11.


2 Peter 2:10 “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."


Not only does verse 10 tell us that there is a lot of work involved in securing our calling and election, but it also tells us that those things have to be done to avoid falling from grace. Verse 2 says that grace is multiplied through knowledge of the Lord Jesus.


There is also a warning in Hebrews to those Christian Jews who gave up belief in Jesus to turn back to the Law of Moses.


Hebrews 6:4 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."


Those once enlightened can fall away, if they reject Jesus.


2 Peter 3:16 "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."


How ironic! The Calvinists twist the scriptures to their own destruction, which can cause one to fall from steadfastness, if attention is not paid to knowledge in Christ Jesus and growth in grace!


Ezekiel 18:25 "Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."


God is fair, He is just. He rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. Those who turn from wicked ways are forgiven, while those who turn from righteousness are punished. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wishes their repentance. As we studied previously:


2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."


Romans 11:17 "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again."


Whether our souls are saved or lost depends upon whether we seek Him or reject Him. Grace is for all, but not all avail themselves of that grace. Some turn aside after seeking God, to their own peril. Some turn back to God, to their salvation. It is God’s desire that all be saved.


Philippians 2:12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."



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