by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I John 2:15-25
I. During the Reformation, a man named John Calvin came up with a system of belief that has impacted a large portion of the denominational world.
A. The ideas were not original with Calvin. He based his work on many that preceded him.
B. What Calvin did was to organize the beliefs into a consistent whole. Each idea flowed from one point to the next. Each idea supported the other ideas. They stood and fell together.
C. The main problem is that each idea was wrong.
II. One tenant of Calvinism is called the “perseverance of the saints”.
A. It means that when God saves people, they are permanently saved.
1. Calvin saw it as an affront to the sovereignty of God to say that man could undo what God had done.
2. Westminster Confession of Faith, Presbyterian Church: “They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”
3. Sam Morris, First Baptist Church, Stamford Texas, Do a Christian’s Sins Damn His Soul?: “We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul . . . All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the debts he my pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger . . . The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul . . . The way I live has nothing whatsoever to do with the salvation of my soul.”
B. The last statement shows the severity this doctrine of Calvin can be taken.
III. Some Calvinists argue that once a person is chosen to be saved, he is unable to sin so as to lose his soul.
A. The difficulty in this position is the plain statements in the New Testament that all sin - Romans 3:10-18, 23
B. They counter by saying, “That was before they were saved.”
C. I John 1:5-10 - The people John is discussing those who walk in the light of God and cleansed from all sin.
1. Even though we are cleansed from sin, it is a lie to say we do not sin.
2. I John 2:1-2 - Christians are not supposed to sin, but when we do we have an avenue of forgiveness.
D. Trapped by the fact that people who they thought were saved committed sins, they will argue that they never were actually saved. They only had an appearance of salvation.
1. The Five Points of Calvinism, Steele and Thomas: “Many who profess to believe fall away, but they do not fall from grace for they were never in grace.”
2. Sometimes I John 2:19 is cited. The claim is that if they left, then they were never truly one of us.
a. Notice the context speaks of those against Christ (I John 2:18).
b. In II John 7-9 speaks of the same matter, but notice the warnings against losing what we accomplished and remaining in the teachings of Christ.
3. What John is stating is that our fellowship with Christians can only exist when we first have fellowship with God and His Son - John 1:1-3
a. That relationship with God can only come through Jesus - John 14:6
b. If we have a relationship with Jesus, then we will obey him - John 14:15
c. This is why sin on our part hinders our relationship with God and with fellow Christians - I John 1:5-7; 2:3-6
4. What we have is the same situation as the parable of the sower - Luke 8:11-15
a. Notice the hard ground never accepted the word, but those in rocky soil and among the thorns did accept the word, but lost due to trials and cares of this world.
b. They left, not because they were never one of us, but because they lost what joined them to us – a relationship with God and the Son through the truth.
5. We can see this in I John 2:19 that states if they had not left, they would have continued with us.
a. Continued in what? Continued in the fellowship of believers.
b. Notice verse 24, if the doctrine you heard from the beginning abides (or continues – same word as in I John 2:19), then you will abide (continue – again the same word) in the Son and the Father.
c. You cannot remain in something you never had.
d. What hinders this relationship? A love of the world - I John 2:15-17 (notice there is that word abide or continue again).
6. What we see is that John is not saying that those who left were never a part of us.
a. He is saying they left because what bound them to us is no longer in them.
b. What binds Christians is our relationship with God, His Son, and His truth. - Colossians 1:21-23
c. When a Christian severs his relationship with the truth, it severs his relationship with his brethren. It may not show up immediately, but they will soon drift off because the common ties no longer hold them to the rest.
d. Demas left because he loved this world - II Timothy 4:10
E. II Peter 2:20 - People can escape the pollution of the world, yet be entangled again.
1. This is not an illusion of salvation, but one who was saved returning to the filth of sin.
IV. Other Calvinists, like Sam Morris quoted earlier, will argue that Christians do sin, but those sins will not affect the outcome.
A. Simon was saved - Acts 8:13 (noticed the word continued again)
1. Yet he sinned and see Peter’s assessment - Acts 8:18-24.
2. If he had not repented, what would have been the outcome?
B. When brethren altered the doctrine of Christ by attempting justification under the Old Law, they fell from grace and severed their relationship with Christ - Galatians 5:4
C. James 5:19-20 - The restoration saved his soul from death. It was possible that his salvation would have been lost!
D. Perhaps the clearest passage is Hebrews 6:4-6
1. Notice that this is not a temporary backsliding.
2. It is impossible to renew them. They fell permanently away!
V. Our salvation is not a guarantee that we will be saved no matter what we do. Our salvation does not stop temptation and it will not keep you from sinning.
A. We must work out our salvation - Philippians 2:12
B. If we do sin, we have means to return - I John 2:1; 1:9