Perseverance and Falling Away?

Ok, I’ll try to make the question brief.

There are two passages (more, but 2 really strong ones) that give clear warnings about the righteous/justified/saved person falling away. Here they are:

Colossians 1:13-23
For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind… yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death… if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard…

Hebrews 10:35-39
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet…But My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in Him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Ok, I’ve been taught to understand that verses like this serve as warnings to the elect that are used by the Holy Spirit to move them on towards perseverance and endurance. And, certainly that’s true. If I were Catholic, I’d believe that. But, it sure seems like they are not meant for merely that. This is God speaking, and He, by nature, doesn’t try to slip fast ones by us, so to speak. Like “I’ll make them think that they can fall away, when in reality they can’t.”

I’m open to hearing the Catholic side here. It’s a rare opportunity, take advantage of it please :tiphat:

I should request deeper than surface level responses. This is a major issue between “Evangelical Protestants” and Catholics, especially “Evangelical Catholics.”

Thanks

It would seem to me that a plain reading of those verses would suffice, which would mean that one can fall away.

I agree with your thought that it doesn’t seem to reflect God’s way of doing things if we add odd qualifications to those verses like, “Well, those are only for the people that never actually had a relationship with Jesus in the first place.” Since the verses seem to be referring on the surface to people who do in fact know Jesus, it doesn’t make sense to me to suggest that the exact opposite is actually true.

I’ve been participating in a discussion on another forum where we’ve been discussing things such as once saved always saved and free will. In my first assessment, all these various questions seem to get at the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with him.

Certain assumptions are made by one side or another, and these assumptions compel by force of logic the adoption of other ideas (if x is true, then logically, *y *& z have to be true).

Thus, we can argue all day long about whether or not we can lose salvation, but we might not accomplish anything unless we first figure out what we think salvation means and how we got it in the first place.

1st Corinthians chapter 10 also deals with this. Paul tells his readers that their ancestors (the Israelites) displeased God in spite of the fact that they “were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea” (1) because they commited idolatry (7), indulged in sexual immorality (8) and put God to the test (9). Paul tells the Corinthians that these things serve as a warning to them and warns them, saying “Therefore whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall” (12). I always read it as his way of saying that those who believe in Christ can have confidence in their salvation, but they must not become overconfident because they are all in danger of falling away. We must carefully guard ourselves because we all are in danger of falling away.

Ok, thank you Prometheum.

Not to “redirect the topic” but rather to add another dimension to it if you will:

I’m a kind of was a Calvinist. So, I was Biblically convinced of the “Perseverance of the Saints.” Not “Eternal Security” that’s based upon different “assumptions” if you will.

And, I’m not about to give up what Scripture plainly teaches, so the Church has to plainly teach too, in order to remain on the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets (Eph. 2:20). But, I realize it must be understood within the context of all of Scripture, and in the Church’s interpretation of it. I think reading St. Augustine’s Treatise on the Gift of Perseverance would help. But, in the mean time, let’s discuss.

Some verses, there’s certainly more, but here’s some:

Jeremiah 32:40
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, that they may not turn from Me.

Matthew 18:12-14
The Lost Sheep Parable … So it is not the will of my Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

I Corinthians 1:7-9
…so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:13,14
…have believed in Him, and were sealed witht ehpromised Hloy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it

I Thessalonians 5:23,24
May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless a the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

Jude 24,25
Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory…

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Ok, so you see I’m not trying to be argumentative. I have to know, how do you reconcile the 2 “types” of passages?

[quote=Grace and Glory]1st Corinthians chapter 10 also deals with this.

We must carefully guard ourselves because we all are in danger of falling away.
[/quote]

THanks for that G&G,

I think verse 13 is pretty good too. I suppose if I were Catholic, I would press the point that God is so diligent in assuring our perseverance that He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure, and always provides a way out. So, when we do fall into sin, it’s completely our fault. God has taken care to provide a dual means for our perseverance (Fear of God in our hearts, and a way out of a temptation that isn’t too much for us), so it’s in spite of His grace that we fall into sin, all our fault.

hmmmm, that’s something to think about seriously.

Well, good discussion, keep it coming.

BTW, I like your Padre Pio reference. I’ve got a little prayer/devo booklet by him, “The Agony of Jesus” and it’s great. Just started it last night. WOW.

I really don’t think these two types of passages are contradictory when both are understood correctly. I agree with what you said earlier that if we fall away it is our fault, not God’s. God always provides the grace we need, but we don’t always respond to that grace. If we respond to that grace, we can be assured that we will perservere to the end. What we cannot be assured of is that we will actually respond to that grace when we receive it. In that sense, I think as a Catholic I can say that I am relatively sure that I will not fall away, but I cannot know with one hundred percent metaphysical certainty. I don’t think that I have to constantly worry that I will go to hell or something like that because I have hope knowing that God’s promises are true, but I also have to realize that I have the choice to reject God and His promises to me. I also recognize that it is possible that my perception that I am following God’s will is mistaken.

Jeremiah 32:40
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, that they may not turn from Me.

I think that when we have the fear of God in our hearts, we will perservere, but through our own actions, we can make our hearts numb to that fear. We can forget God’s steadfast love for us, and when we do, that is when we are most in danger of falling away. That’s my interpretation of Psalm 106. It recounts how the Israelites fell away, but it prefaces this with verse 7: “Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wonderful works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love.”

Matthew 18:12-14
The Lost Sheep Parable … So it is not the will of my Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

I agree that it is not God’s will for any of us to perish, but, again, I think we can reject His grace and turn against His will because He gave us free will.

I Corinthians 1:7-9
…so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Later in 1 Corinthians, in verse 15:4 Paul says that we are being saved through the good news he proclaimed, “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you-unless you have come to believe in vain.” So I think that Paul was telling his readers that they could be confident, but also that their confidence was contingent on their holding firm to the message they had come to believe.

Ephesians 1:13,14
…have believed in Him, and were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.

I hope I’m not sounding repetitive here, but I think that as long as we have the Holy Spirit with us, our inheritance is in a sense guaranteed, but we can reject the Holy Spirit at a future time if we allow ourselves to fall into sin. Because we do not know the future, we cannot have that one hundred percent metaphysical certainty, although we can say that IF we continue in the Spirit, we will gain our inheritance.

I Thessalonians 5:23,24
May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

He will do it, but we must allow Him to do it. If we choose to close off our heart, He will not force His way in. He stands at the door and knocks; He does not use a battering ram.

Jude 24,25
Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory…

God definitely can keep us from falling. I know without Him, there is no way I would have even gotten this far. But again, He will not force us not to fall if we choose to reject Him.

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

I love this verse! It is one of my favorites. Again, I think it is a matter of allowing God to do that good work in us.

I understand that you are not being argumentative. I hope I do not come across that way, either. I know it can be kind of difficult having these discussions online, because often it is hard to figure out a person’s intention.

Sorry my previous post was so long. I wanted to add that I am not an expert, so if someone who knows more than I do wants to correct me or add something, feel free.:slight_smile:

[quote=Reformed Rob]THanks for that G&G,

I think verse 13 is pretty good too. I suppose if I were Catholic, I would press the point that God is so diligent in assuring our perseverance that He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure, and always provides a way out. So, when we do fall into sin, it’s completely our fault. God has taken care to provide a dual means for our perseverance (Fear of God in our hearts, and a way out of a temptation that isn’t too much for us), so it’s in spite of His grace that we fall into sin, all our fault.

hmmmm, that's something to think about seriously.

Well, good discussion, keep it coming.

BTW, I like your Padre Pio reference. I’ve got a little prayer/devo booklet by him, “The Agony of Jesus” and it’s great. Just started it last night. WOW.
[/quote]

We know that God does not want anyone to perish, and as 1 Cor 10 points out, God will provide a way to stand up under any temptation. God will not turn his back on me, but I can break myself into pieces by dashing myself against he who is the Cornerstone.

Thus, those who find themselves in hell have only themselves to blame for rejecting God’s grace. How could anyone ever choose to reject God? The same way that Satan did, though he was one of the great angels. . . the same way that Adam and Eve did, though they walked with him.

And I can sense that potential within my heart. Even when I am closest to God, I can hear a whisper that says, “No. . . do it your way, do what you want to do, do it all for you. . .”. Even though it is completely irrational, it has surprising force. Then I realize that following God is sometimes very simple. It comes down to a simple choice: Will I love Jesus or will I seek my own glory instead? Shall he be my God, or will I try to be God instead?

I have to make that decision every day.

[quote=Reformed Rob] I’m not about to give up what Scripture plainly teaches
[/quote]

Hi Rob! :wave:

The trouble is that sometimes what appears to be “plainly in scripture” to some is just plainly wrong to others. After all, salvation can’t both be unlosable and able to be lost at the same time; baptism can’t be salvific and merely symbolic at the same time; tongues can’t be necessary for salvation and satanic at the same time. Yet for those who hold to each of those ideas it is believed to be taught plainly in scripture, while their opponents are equally certain that they are wrong.

At the foundation of each and every doctrinal disagreement is authority, the issue on which every other depends.

Just my :twocents: !

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:

RefRob,

Check these out, if you want the Catholic view on perseverance, especially the second:

ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/TULIP.htm

cin.org/users/james/files/loss.htm

They are pretty clear, I think.

Thank you all for that.

I’ve started reading Augustine’s “On the Perseverance of the Saints” and it’s really good, of course. I can see how easily Calvinists could get their (our?) doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints (similar name, different meaning) from Augustine’s writings. He is very clear that once God gives the gift of perseverance to the end, it is irrevocable. That person will not fall away. But it is not given to all. And since it is a gift of God’s grace, then it is to be prayed for to be received from God.

As a Calvinist, I look at it and say that the people who fall away were not elect. Well, you Catholics should again agree. I hope. But if I were to go on and say that those people had not received forgiveness of sins, been saved and redeemed by Christ, that’s where we would part.

You would say that, yes, the person was righteous (not “without sin” but had received the righteousness of Christ, you know), was saved, was fully in Christ. But though they had the firstfruits of God’s grace, they did not have the final fruits, the enduring grace of perseverance to the end.

Ok, I’m not going to be a pushover. There’s got to be something else to challenge you with on this topic. hmmm, I’ll enquire from my sages. It’s beyond me!!

Hi Rob! :wave:

Wouldn’t a Calvinist claim that his doctrine FROM scripture rather than other writings such as Augustine??

How is the Calvinist view consistent with 1 Tim 2:4?

[God] desires all men to be saved…

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:

ReformedBob:

As a Calvinist, I look at it and say that the people who fall away were not elect. Well, you Catholics should again agree. I hope. But if I were to go on and say that those people had not received forgiveness of sins, been saved and redeemed by Christ, that’s where we would part.

Heb. 6:4-6 seems to indicate that some can lose the benefit of repentance and faith:

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

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

6If 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.

May God bless you on your journey.

Peace in Christ…Salmon

[quote=Catholic4aReasn]Hi Rob! :wave:

Wouldn’t a Calvinist claim that his doctrine FROM scripture rather than other writings such as Augustine??

How is the Calvinist view consistent with 1 Tim 2:4?

[God] desires all men to be saved…

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Yes :tiphat:, You are very correct, and Calvin himself said (Institutes, Book 4, Section 8) even that though there is much good in the writings of the church fathers, and certain parts of some councils, the judge of what is good is Scripture. So, ultimately, yes.

My purpose was not to be an inconsistent Calvinist, rather to say that I’m seeing where Catholics would agree in some sense, according to Augustine, where we hold similar beliefs as to God’s gift of perseverance, and also see where the disagreement would come in.

About** I Timothy 2:4**. Well, maybe there’s more to it, but I was “trained” you might say, to understand that in the light of how men are saved. They are saved through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. That atoning sacrifice was only for the elect, though it had far reaching effects to all people in all times, in some way or another that is still debated today (different views of common, or universal grace).
On a side note, the way some people describe “universal grace” they make it sound like something totally distinct from the definition of grace! Anyways…
Back on track. So, we pray for all to be saved that Christ died for to save, in terms of Limited Atonement.
However, since Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they should turn from their wickedness and live, and we don’t know who is “elect” then we pray not particularly, but universally, for* God does not wish that any should perish, but that all be saved*. But by the means He appointed, all could be saved, if they were to trust in Christ, but not all will be saved, for they must be given and exercise faith, and be called by the Gospel, *how shall they hear without a preacher? * Romans 10:14

Does that make sense?

[quote=Reformed Rob]Yes :tiphat:, You are very correct, and Calvin himself said (Institutes, Book 4, Section 8) even that though there is much good in the writings of the church fathers, and certain parts of some councils, the judge of what is good is Scripture. So, ultimately, yes.

My purpose was not to be an inconsistent Calvinist, rather to say that I’m seeing where Catholics would agree in some sense, according to Augustine, where we hold similar beliefs as to God’s gift of perseverance, and also see where the disagreement would come in.

About** I Timothy 2:4**. Well, maybe there’s more to it, but I was “trained” you might say, to understand that in the light of how men are saved. They are saved through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. That atoning sacrifice was only for the elect, though it had far reaching effects to all people in all times, in some way or another that is still debated today (different views of common, or universal grace).
On a side note, the way some people describe “universal grace” they make it sound like something totally distinct from the definition of grace! Anyways…
Back on track. So, we pray for all to be saved that Christ died for to save, in terms of Limited Atonement.
However, since Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they should turn from their wickedness and live, and we don’t know who is “elect” then we pray not particularly, but universally, for* God does not wish that any should perish, but that all be saved*. But by the means He appointed, all could be saved, if they were to trust in Christ, but not all will be saved, for they must be given and exercise faith, and be called by the Gospel, *how shall they hear without a preacher? *Romans 10:14

Does that make sense?
[/quote]

Hi Rob! :wave:

Are you really a Calvinist or just playing devil’s advocate??

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:

QUOTE=Catholic4aReasn]Hi Rob! :wave:

Are you really a Calvinist or just playing devil’s advocate??

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:
Mrs. Nancy,

Thank you for asking! I said in post #4 that “I’m a kind of was a Calvinist.”

I will zealously renounce my Calvinist heresy when I make my first confession, and I hope to continue strong in the grace of my Confirmation. I hope, that if I am reconditionally baptized, that the Protestant demons will be truly and finally exorcised out of me.

But, for now, I still think as a Calvinist in many ways. It takes time for a change like that to take place. I ask questions from the Protestant side because I realize that maybe for some it will be the first time to converse with a real live Reformed guy. And I want to hear the answers.

Ok, here’s a question:

If a good work of grace is begun in us, then why… No, I know the answer.

Ok, I’m sorry, I just can’t come up with any questions.

Ok, the words of Scripture, like the passages quoted above, are used by the Holy Spirit to show that we must persevere to the end. It’s not to be understood that we would ever fall away, but rather, those warnings are real, and work efficaciously in the elect to cause them to persevere.
As Scripture says:

Romans 8:28-30
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be ther first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified these he also glorified.

Ok, those God predestined, they love Him, He causes all things to work out for their good, and they are called, justified, and He glorified them as well, referring to the final salvation of our souls, as is clear by Paul’s use of the word in

Romans 8:17
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

Ok, that’s it. I’m sure there’s more, but if those objections don’t hold up, I don’t know what will. Actually, I think I already have latent in my mind what your answer will be, or what my answer would be if I were Catholic.

[quote=Reformed Rob]Ok, here’s a question:

If a good work of grace is begun in us, then why...  No, I know the answer.  

Ok, I’m sorry, I just can’t come up with any questions.

Ok, the words of Scripture, like the passages quoted above, are used by the Holy Spirit to show that we must persevere to the end. It’s not to be understood that we would ever fall away, but rather, those warnings are real, and work efficaciously in the elect to cause them to persevere.
As Scripture says:

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be ther first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified these he also glorified.

Ok, those God predestined, they love Him, He causes all things to work out for their good, and they are called, justified, and He glorified them as well, referring to the final salvation of our souls, as is clear by Paul’s use of the word in

Romans 8:17
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

Ok, that’s it. I’m sure there’s more, but if those objections don’t hold up, I don’t know what will. Actually, I think I already have latent in my mind what your answer will be, or what my answer would be if I were Catholic.
[/quote]

It is largely a question of what role we play in our own salvation. From what I understand, Calvinists(at least the TULIP ones) hold to Irresistable Grace. So if God gives you the grace of faith, of final perseverance, you are incapable of rejecting that. Thus, those who are saved will show the evidence of such divine election in their faith, actions, and final perseverence. Those who fall away simply didn’t have the necessary grace required for perseverance.

However, the Catholic distinction would be to affirm the positve – that those who persevere to the end had the necessary grace to do so – but reject the idea that falling away was necessarily due to a lack of grace. Those who persevere to the end are those who received that grace and welcomed it. For Catholics, God’s grace is definitely resistable. We have to choose to accept his grace.

As for the verses on predestination, having never been a Calvinist, I have never understood how the word is supposed to indicate that God overrides free will and forces us into a particular outcome.

Calvinism is understood only in the whole context, in sum total of the view a Calvinist has about God, history, and salvation.

Let me speak as a Calvinist, that will make it all easier. I hope I don’t muddle distinctions, so I’ll try not to.

We do believe and affirm “free will.” Man’s will is free to do whatever he pleases, and to drive his intellect and actions. Let me use the words of the Westminster Conf of Faith, Chapter 9 on Free Will

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.

That’s not to be understood Pelagianly. I affirm Original Sin, and here’s proof. Article 2 says basically that Adam and Eve, in the state of innocency, had the power to will and to do pleasing to God, but it was mutable, and they lost it by sin.

  1. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost the ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation.
    to paraphrase the rest, he is dead in sin, and unable to do any good to prepare himself unto salvation.

Art. 4 says basically that when a sinner is converted, it is by God’s grace alone, and enables him to freely will and to do what is good.

So, we are not pelagians, or semi-pelagians. BAsically, we say that, yes, man can will to do anything, but cannot will against his nature, because it is his nature that determines what he can do. A non-Christian can do some good things, but they don’t count towards salvation (Titus 3:3-5).

Now, Matthew 17:12 - Elias is come already, and they know him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.

Was that against their will to kill John the Baptist? NO! Was it against their will that they condemned and crucified Christ? NO!!

Yet, Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

See also** Mark 9:31 and Mark 10:33.
**
Ok, so what do you say? Here’s what I say: God moves men’s will in such a way that they freely choose to do what God has determined for them to do. If you don’t like that, then let me say that God is sovereign over all His creation, in a 4-dimensional way, if you will, even over time, and causes the circumstances in our lives to lead our will towards certain ends.

Example, Matthew 11:21
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! ** For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occured in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes**. Nevertheless, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you.

Christ spoke and indicated that, if the miracles were done in certain other places, those people would have repented of their sins. But he didn’t go there, did he? No, and so we see God’s eternal decree, passing over some, in His justice, and in His mercy, attesting to others of His power, though they choose not to come, not to repent and believe.

Sorry that’s so long. I didn’t mean for it to be. I’ve been praying to St. Francis de Sales a lot recently, the patron Saint of writers! So, with that said, I think that there is an element of what I said that is what Augustinians and Thomists (Catholics) would agree with, at least to some degree. So, it can’t be totally unbiblical.

Aw, I’m sorry… that was so long!

If you care to, do think and please respond.

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