On Salvation – Once Held, Never Lost

Among Arminians there is this notion that men can “fall away” – that is that once a person is saved they can, somehow, lose their salvation, if they choose to walk away from God (Whether one “choosing to walk away from God” is how all Arminians see this issue of how losing salvation is brought about, I know not; this is merely how it has been explained to me by them). And while they’ve been able to at least somewhat articulate their belief, not once have they ever quoted scripture to me concerning this matter; regardless, I wish to dive into this matter and really explore this matter without labels i.e. I do not intent to say, “I’m a Calvinist therefore Perseverance of The Saints,” because while that is true (I am a Calvinist’s Calvinist and adhere to all the Doctrines of Grace) I don’t wish to give the typical response. I wish to give everyone who reads this a (possibly) new perspective on this issue that I myself just came to the realization of. Now with that said that does not mean I will not use “proof-texts” such as John 10:27-29, on the contrary I will examine the scriptures that uphold the biblical truth concerning salvation. But enough introductory words, let’s get into this topic.

Now some may say that it is possible to fall away, to lose their salvation. They say this because they see people who seem to be followers of Christ, who go to church, who know scripture, and then go off to college and come back an atheist. Or who fall into certain life styles and such. And these real-life examples are what they generally use – as I stated earlier, I have not once been quoted scripture in favor of this Arminian notion – to support their position. And while these “real-life” examples may seem hard to argue against I must remind us all that scripture trumps all life experiences that we may have; I would further remind people reading this that taking our own life experiences above the authority of scripture leads to one end: believing a lie, whether that lie be free will, Catholicism, atheism, agnosticism, or relativism, or any other lie. So while those “real-life” experiences may seem to be over scripture I call you all to remember that it is not “scripture” but rather “Scripture”. This is the very word of the sovereign God, and therefore what it says overrides whatever we’d like to think about anything. Now this notion of people losing their salvation: what does this whole issue rest upon? Many will point to the sovereignty of God in salvation, and they are right, the sovereignty of God in salvation is part of this whole controversy, but I’d wish to call your attention to the very core of salvation: atonement. Truly this is the core of salvation: for only with the atonement of Christ there is salvation, but without the atonement of Christ there is absolutely no salvation. And because of that fact, the losing of salvation heavily relates to atonement. So let’s look at atonement.
How are we justified in God’s sight? Through what is atonement accomplished? Divine scripture is very clear on this: 
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26
Here Paul says that we are “justified by his grace as a gift,” through what? “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” We see clearly that through Christ we are justified, by his redemption which is a propitiation of his blood, not by works or anything that we do, as the apostle more clearly states: “20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20). Very clearly it is not by our works, but by grace as he says in another place: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus it is not our own righteousness that saves us, and why is that? Well quite simply, because our “good works” are like filthy rags before the eyes of a holy God. 
So then if not by our own righteousness, then by who’s righteousness are we justified before God? We know they by faith we are justified, but by faith in what? Faith in a guy who died on a cross? No there’s more to it than that. You see as scripture says, God will not justify the guilty (“keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:7) so therefore there must some sort of transferring of righteousness between two parties to make us righteous in the sight of God. We have faith upon Christ to supply that righteousness that is given to us through faith as the prophet says:
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. – Zechariah 3:1-5

We are Joshua in this passage, and the clean robes that we (those that are in Christ) wear are not our own but they were given to us. And the wee given to us from Christ, and he took our filthy clothes and bore the punishment that is rightfully ours for us, as it is written: 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5). 

Clearly we see that Christ’s death, His holy life, and his resurrection are the things that justify us. Now you are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with whether or not one can lose their salvation?” But consider, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what the implications of Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s death and resurrection, being the thing that justifies you is. Consider these questions: if it is by the righteousness of Christ and by the punishment that He endured for us, how then can we lose our salvation? If we can lose our salvation by anything that we do, that would mean that we can make the righteousness of Christ and the payment of Christ on our behalf defective. Tell me, o man, how can we make Christ’s righteousness unrighteous? How can we nullify what He has done? Does not Paul say, “3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” ” (Romans 3:3-4)? If God is true even thought every man be a liar, then must not Christ be righteous though every man is a sinner? 
As you can see, nothing we can do will ever make the righteousness of Christ any less righteous than it is, how then can we lose our salvation if it is based on Christ’s righteousness, which we cannot affect? We cannot affect Christ’s righteousness, therefore we cannot affect what our salvation rests upon, therefore we cannot affect our salvation. 
And that is why Calvinists say: If saved, always saved. Why? Because how can we make the righteousness that saves us, which isn’t ours but Christ’s, unrighteous? Simply we cannot do that, it is literally impossible. 
And furthermore, Christ says:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:27-29
When Christ says that “no one will snatch them out of my hand” he mean it. “No one” means no one, nobody, no one! When he says that “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” it means NO ONE has the power, the ability, to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. And if no one means no one, then that includes the sheep, the redeemed. Therefore it is impossible for us to lose our salvation. 
Once held, never lost.
Blessings to all my brothers and sisters in the faith,

Michael Hall

On Salvation – Once Held, Never Lost

On Faith

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     Faith, a word that we use so often, but do we ever stop to consider what it means, what faith looks like – in our own life and in others. Do we ever stop to ask the question: is my faith merely intellectual knowledge/agreement or is it genuine faith that is firmly rooted in out hearts? Or what does it look like for us to actually live by faith? And are we doing that? Do we “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5)?
Sadly, we often do not ask ourselves these kind of hard questions; in fact, we often skirt over a sober analysis of ourselves and whether our faith is genuine. But not today; today, I will, Lord willing, do a very sober analysis of what faith is, what does it look like in ones life – essentially everything about faith I shall try to deal with in this post.

Paul writes, “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and again, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17). Here we are not only said to live by faith, but also commanded that we should live by faith. And in 2 Corinthians 13:5 (quoted earlier) we are instructed by the Apostle to examine ourselves to see whether we really are in the faith. Thus, it should naturally be understood that our understanding of what faith is, and what faith looks like, and everything else about faith, is of the up most importance. After all Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8a) which only further highlights the importance in faith, since it is through faith that we gain salvation.

First off, what is faith? What is our definition of faith? What does the scripture say faith is?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.                                                                                                                            – Hebrews 11:1

Faith is not a hope, but rather an “assurance of things hoped for”; faith is not some uncertain thing, but a firm conviction. Faith is not an abstract concept, but a tangible thing. However faith is not mere intellectual agreement, as James writes, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19), rather faith is deeper than that it is real, and not only real but faith is an “assurance” and a “conviction”, but of what? What “things hoped for” does our faith act as a assurance of? Or what “things not seen” does our faith act as a conviction of? Well very simply, of the promises of God. Now one may scoff and say, “What good is a promise of things that have not been seen? What good is that?” I answer: the promises that we have faith in is not promises of men, who so often break their word, but of God, who has never in all eternity past, present, and future broken His word. We trust in not the finite beings that are so easily deceived, tricked, or killed, but in the infinite Being, who through His power and mercy has saved us from our own natures. We hope not in the sinful, but in the holy and perfect. We hope in God. We hope in θεὸς (God) not in ἄνθρωπος (mankind,man). You see trust in a promise does not stem from the promise itself but from the one who makes the promise. How much more will you trust the promise of an eternal just, good, loving, caring God over that of wicked, sinful, fallen man?

So what is faith? Faith is hope in God, no faith is sure trust in God; faith is assurance in God, as the apostle writes: “who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:21) and again: “so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:5). For of what value would our faith be were it to rest on the virtue and power of fallen man? What assurance would be in it? What trust or hope? Thus, faith – true faith – must rest on God, and on God alone. For if we put our faith and trust into man – fallen man – we will only have our trust and faith betrayed, but yet God will not betray our faith and trust, for Paul says, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” (Romans 9:14).

So we’ve established what faith is, and who our faith rests upon, but what does it mean to “live by faith” (Romans 1:17)?

Well, if our faith is in God, then living by faith is living in God and in what God desires for our lives. If we live in sin we are not living by faith but by fleshly desires; if we live in total conformity to the standards of the world, we are not living in faith but in the world. To live by faith is to follow the God whom you have put your trust; it is to act on your trust, to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. As the Apostle writes:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
– Hebrews 11:8

Here the faith of Abraham is not passive, but active. “By faith” he obeyed, not by intellectual understanding for the Apostle hastens to add: “And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Not to say that our faith is blind or not useful but rather that faith – true, genuine faith – rests solely on God and not on our understanding; but yet, despite how Abraham did not know “where he was going” he still “went out” regardless of his “not knowing”. Faith isn’t knowledge or intellectual agreement, but trust and assurance. And not only that trust and assurance but action upon that trust and assurance. As James says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) and again, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17). Faith without action is dead and of no consequence, thus action upon faith must accompany faith. Not that we are saved by works, but rather that as James says, “I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18c). You see, our faith must be an active faith; it cannot be a “I go to church on Sundays and that’s good enough”, for James says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) because true faith will not be without works, for true faith is not dead, but alive!

In conclusion, faith is not merely an intellectual understanding or agreement, but a thing of the heart, something that is important – vastly important- and rests on God alone. It is also not a passive thing, but an active thing that must be acted upon daily, so that we may “show…[our] faith by [our] works”.

Blessings,
Michael Hall

On Faith

Introductory Post

Hello all, my name is Michael Hall, I’m the soon to be host of Michael Hall Theology Podcasts, but also I am a rigorous studier of God’s Word and of Reformed Theology, Systematic Theology, and Biblical Theology. I plan on using this blog and my upcoming podcasts as my online ministry to the world.
I’m a firm Calvinist and I adhere to the Doctrines of Grace and to the Five Solas, which I will list and explain briefly below:

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Sola Gratia – which means that we are saved by grace alone, not by any merit or righteousness that we posses but by the sheer grace of God

Sola Fide – which means that salvation is through faith alone, not of works or deeds, but solely through faith.

Solus Christus – which means that we are saved by Christ alone, not by any other thing hat is in the world.

Simply put these three of the five Solas mean simply this: We are saved by Grace Alone (Sola Gratia), through Faith Alone (Sola Fide), in Christ Alone (Solus Christus).

Sola Scriptura – which means that Scripture Alone is the sole binder of the human conscience, which is a result of Scripture’s inerrancy and infallibility, as Martin Luther said, “My conscious is held captive by the Word of God, to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

Soli Deo Gloria – which means that everything we do, should be done, to the glory of God alone.

Now for the Doctrines of Grace:

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Total Depravity (Radical Depravity, Radical Corruption) – which means that man is thoroughly corrupted by sin, to the point that, on his own, man will never choose Christ, in fact man cannot choose Christ because he is dead. (John 3:19-20; Romans 3:10-12)

Unconditional Election (Specific Election) – which means that God chooses those to save by His sovereign and merciful hand, not by any merit or righteousness that He saw in us, but rather “according to the purpose of His will ” (Ephesians 1:5; John 6:44,65).

Limited Atonement (Definite Atonement, Specific Atonement) – which means that Christ did not die for all, but rather only for the Elect (those who have been predestined). (John 10:11,14-15).

Irresistible Grace (Effectual Calling) – which means simply, that when the sovereign, creating God calls one inwardly – that is, the Holy Spirit rebirths their heart and opens their eyes – they cannot not be effected. We resist because natural man is opposed to God, but it is effectual in that when God commands, nature must respond. (Ephesians 2:1-7; Ephesians 3:7. An excellent analogy is the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-44).

Perseverance of the Saints (Sustaining of the Saints) – which means that God, in His sovereignty, holds you in His hand and no one, which includes you, can snatch you out of His hand. (John 10:28-29).

Those are the main doctrines that I adhere to. Feel free to email me at michaelhalltheology@gmail.com if you have any questions or anything at all. I hope you are edified by my upcoming blog posts and my upcoming podcasts.

Blessings,
Michael Hall

Introductory Post