Perseverance of the saints

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Perseverance of the saints, also known as preservation of the saints, is a Calvinist doctrine asserting that the elect will persevere in faith and ultimately achieve salvation. This concept was initially developed by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century, who formulated the idea of predestination by predetermination. In the 16th century, John Calvin and other reformers integrated this idea into their theological framework. The doctrine of perseverance of the saints is rooted in this understanding of predestination and continues to be a central tenet of Reformed theology today.

Definition and terminology[edit]


The doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints asserts that the elect will persevere in faith until the end of their lives and ultimately achieve salvation. Those who are truly born again are the elect who will persevere to the end.[1]


The alternative term "preservation of the saints" emphasizes God's role in determining the elect's perseverance. Conversely, "perseverance of the saints" highlights the human act of perseverance, which is a consequence of God's preservation.[2][3]

Because one practical interpretation of the Calvinist doctrine of "perseverance of the saints" leads to "eternal security",[4] over time, the term became synonymous with the doctrine itself.[5] However, given the theological significance of the term "eternal security" in common usage, it's important to distinguish them.[6] Indeed, some Calvinist theologians reject the use of "eternal security" for their doctrine of perseverance,[7] as do proponents of non-Calvinist forms of eternal security.[8]


Augustine's doctrine of perseverance[edit]

Botticelli, Sandro. (c. 1480) Saint Augustine in His Study

Before his conversion to Christianity in 387, Augustine of Hippo (354–430), adhered to three deterministic philosophies: Stoicism, Neoplatonism and Manichaeism.[9][10][11][12][13][14] After his conversion, he taught traditional Christian theology against forms of theological determinism until 412.[15][16][17]

During his conflict with the Pelagians, however Augustine seemed to reintroduce certain Manichean principles into his thought,[18][19][20][21][22][23] a shift notably influenced by the controversy over infant baptism.[24] His early exposure to Stoicism, with its emphasis on meticulous divine predeterminism, also shaped his views.[25] According to Manichean doctrine, unborn and unbaptized infants were condemned to hell due to their physical bodies.[26] Augustine asserted that God predetermined parents to seek baptism for their newborns, linking water baptism to regeneration,[27] and ultimately predetermining which infants are damned and which are justified.[28]

Augustine had to explain why some baptized infants continued in the faith while others fell away and lived immoral lives. He taught that among those regenerated through baptism, some receive an additional gift of perseverance ("donum perseverantiae") enabling them to maintain their faith and preventing them from falling away.[29][30][31] Without this second gift, a baptized Christian with the Holy Spirit would not persevere and ultimately would not be saved. Augustine developed this doctrine of perseverance in De correptione et gratia (c. 426–427).[32] While this doctrine theoretically give security to the elect who receive the gift of perseverance, individuals cannot ascertain whether they have received it.[33][34][11]

Proponents of Augustinian soteriology before the Reformation[edit]

Between the 5th century and the Reformation in the 16th century, theologians who upheld Augustinian soteriology, included: Gottschalk (c. 808–868),[35] Ratramnus (died 868),[36] Thomas Bradwardine (1300–1349),[37] Gregory of Rimini (1300–1358),[38] John Wycliffe (1320s – 1384),[39] Johann Ruchrat von Wesel (died 1481),[40] Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498)[41] and Johannes von Staupitz (1460–1524).[42]

Development of the Calvinist doctrine of perseverance[edit]

John Calvin among other Reformers, was deeply influenced by Augustine soteriology.[43][44] The soteriology of Calvin was further shaped and systematized by Theodore Beza and other theologians.[45] It was then articulated during the Second Synod of Dort (1618–1619) in response to the opposing Five Articles of Remonstrance.[46][47] The Calvinist doctrine of perseverance is present in the Canons of Dort (ch. 5), the Westminster Confession of Faith (ch. 17), the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (ch. 17), and other Reformed confessions of faith.[2]


A consequence of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination[edit]

The Reformed tradition has consistently seen the doctrine of perseverance as a natural consequence to predestination.

Calvinists maintain that God selected certain individuals for salvation before the world began, and that he subsequently irresistibly draws only these selected individuals to faith in him and his son, Jesus. In support of this, they interpret John 6:44 as a statement that only those pre-ordained for belief in God are drawn to him, with an irresistible grace, as opposed to the Arminian interpretation that all are drawn to him by his prevenient grace, which individuals may resist. Calvinists also use their interpretation of Ephesians 1:4 and Philippians 1:4 in the writings of the apostle Paul as indication that God chose believers in Christ before the world was created, not based upon foreseen faith,[48] but based upon his sovereign decision to save whomever he pleased to save.[49]

According to Calvinists, since God has drawn the elect to faith in Christ by regenerating their hearts and convincing them of their sins, and thus saving their souls by his own work and power, it naturally follows that they will be kept by the same power to the end. Since God has made satisfaction for the sins of the elect, they can no longer be condemned for them, and through the help of the Holy Spirit, they must necessarily persevere as Christians and in the end be saved. Calvinists believe this is what Peter is teaching in 1 Peter 1:5 when he says that true believers are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." Outside Calvinist denominations, this doctrine is widely considered to be flawed.

The necessity of sanctification[edit]

Calvinists also believe that all who are born again and justified before God necessarily and inexorably proceed to sanctification. Failure to proceed to sanctification in their view is considered by some as evidence that the person in question was never truly saved to begin with.[50]

The Westminster Confession of Faith defined perseverance as follows:

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. ─Westminster Confession of Faith (chap. 17, sec. 1).[51]

While Reformed theologians acknowledge that true believers at times will fall into sin, they maintain that a real believer in Jesus Christ cannot abandon one's own personal faith to the dominion of sin.

Nevertheless [believers] may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein; whereby they incur God's displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit: come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves (sec. 3).[51]

On a practical level, Calvinists do not claim to know who is elect and who is not, and the only guide they have is the verbal testimony and good works (or "fruit") of each individual.


Arminian view[edit]

The central tenet of the Arminian view is that although believers are preserved from all external forces that might attempt to separate them from God, they have the free will to separate themselves from God. Although God will not change his mind about a believer's salvation, a believer can willingly repudiate faith (either by express denial of faith or by continued sinful activity combined with an unwillingness to repent). In this manner, salvation is conditional, not unconditional as Calvinism teaches.[52]

Calvinists do not dispute that salvation requires faithfulness. However, Calvinists contend that God is sovereign and cannot permit a true believer to depart from faith.[53] Arminians argue that God is sufficiently sovereign and omnipotent to embed free will into humanity, so that true Christians may exercise free will and fall away from the saving grace they once possessed.

Roman Catholic view[edit]

The 22nd Canon of the Decree Concerning Justification of the Council of Trent (Sixth Session, 13 January 1547) has this to say regarding perseverance: "If anyone says that the one justified either can without the special help of God persevere in the justice received, or that with that help he cannot, let him be anathema." In this canon, the Council reaffirmed that perseverance absolutely requires divine help—a divine help that is fully sufficient.

Respecting these parameters, Catholics can have a variety of views as regards final perseverance. On questions of predestination, Catholic scholars may be broadly characterized as either Molinists or Thomists. The views of the latter are similar to those of Calvinists, in that they understand final perseverance to be a gift applied by God to the regenerated that will assuredly lead them to ultimate salvation. They differ from Calvinists in but one respect: whether God permits men to "fall away" after regeneration. Thomists affirm that God can permit men to come to regeneration without giving them the special gift of divine perseverance, so that they do fall away. Calvinists, by contrast, deny that an individual can fall away if they are truly regenerate.

Lutheran view[edit]

As the Calvinist, confessional Lutherans view the work of salvation as monergistic in that "the natural [that is, corrupted and divinely unrenewed] powers of man cannot do anything or help towards salvation",[54] and Lutherans go further to say that the recipient of saving grace need not cooperate with it. Hence, Lutherans believe that a true Christian – in this instance, a genuine recipient of saving grace – can lose his or her salvation, "[b]ut the cause is not as though God were unwilling to grant grace for perseverance to those in whom He has begun the good work […] [but that these persons] wilfully turn away […]".[55]

Free Grace view[edit]

Free grace advocates believe that believers are promised eternal security, but that God does not promise perseverance.[56] However, those who do not persevere will face temporal discipline and loss of rewards.[57] Free grace advocates criticize perseverance of the saints, because they claim that perseverance puts assurance in good works.[58]

Calvinism believes Free Grace maintains the permanency of justification while radically divorcing the ongoing work of sanctification from it.[59] Reformed theology has uniformly asserted that "no man is a Christian who does not feel some special love for righteousness" (Institutes),[60] and therefore sees Free Grace theology, which allows for the concept of a "carnal Christian" or even an "unbelieving Christian", as a form of radical antinomianism.

Counter evidence[edit]

Calvinist interpretations[edit]

Some Calvinists admit that their interpretation is not without difficulties. One apparent consequence is that not all who "have shared in the Holy Spirit"[61] are necessarily regenerate. This is a consequence Calvinists are willing to accept since the Bible also says that King Saul had the "Spirit of God" in some sense and even prophesied by it,[62] but was not a follower of God. Calvin says,

God indeed favors none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate… But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts.[63]

Some challenge the Calvinist doctrine based on their interpretation of the admonishments in the book of Hebrews, including several passages in the Book of Hebrews,[64] but especially Hebrews 6:4–12 and Heb 10:26–39.[65] The former passage says of those "who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come" that, when they "fall away", they cannot be "restored to repentance."[66] The latter passage says that if one continues in sin, "no sacrifice for sins" remains for that person but "only a fearful expectation of judgment."[67] The author of Hebrews predicts grave punishment for one who "has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace."[68]

The debate over these passages centers around the identity of the persons in question. While opponents of perseverance identify the persons as Christian believers, Calvinists suggest several other options:

  • These passages are not clear enough to describe a regenerate person (or "true Christian"), and thus they do not describe the situation of a true believer. Instead, the persons in question may well have been part of the church community and had the advantages concomitant with that membership (citing the benefits of being a member of the covenant community in the Old Testament mentioned in Romans 3:1–4 and 9:4–5) without being truly "saved"—as with King Saul. In an effort to corroborate this interpretation, they also cite such passages as 1 John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." However, this interpretation also has difficulty with verse 6 which states that it is impossible "if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance."
  • These passages can refer to a regenerate person, but what is described is not a loss of salvation (because they believe other scriptural passages say that this is impossible), but instead a loss of eternal (or millennial) rewards.
  • The author is employing hyperbole to effect positive change in his audience's behavior, possibly referring to Christians leaving fellowship in Hebrews 10:25.
  • The passages refer to Jewish Christians who were reverting to Judaism.
  • The passages refer to the rejection of the covenant community as a whole, not individual believers (Verbrugge).

In general, proponents of the doctrine of perseverance interpret such passages, which urge the church community to persevere in the faith but seem to indicate that some members of the community might fall away, as encouragement to persevere rather than divine warnings. That is, they view the prophets and apostles as writing "from the human perspective", in which the members of the elect are unknowable and all should "work out [their] own salvation"[69] and "make [their] calling and election sure,"[70] rather than "from the divine perspective", in which those who will persevere, according to Calvinism, are well known. The primary objection to this Calvinist approach is that it might equally be said that these difficult passages are intended to be divine warnings to believers who do not persevere, rather than a revealing of God's perpetual grace towards believers.

Interpretations of Hebrews 6:4–6[edit]

Hebrews 6:4–6 is said by some[71] to be one of the Bible's most difficult passages to interpret, and may present the most difficulty for proponents of the Eternal Security of the Believer. The passage is understood by some to mean that "falling away" from an active commitment to Christ may cause one to lose their salvation, after they have attained salvation either according to the Reformed or Free Grace theology. However, numerous conservative Bible scholars do not believe the passage refers to a Christian losing genuinely attained salvation.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

  • One interpretation holds that this passage is written not about Christians but about unbelievers who are convinced of the basic truths of the gospel but who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. They are intellectually persuaded but spiritually uncommitted. The phrase "once enlightened"[72] may refer to some level of instruction in biblical truth. "…have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away…" could be a reference to those who have tasted the truth about Jesus but, not having come all the way to faith, fall away from even the revelation they have been given. The tasting of truth is not enough to keep them from falling away from it. They must come all the way to Christ in complete repentance and faith.[71]
  • A second interpretation holds that this passage is written about Christians, and that the phrases "partakers of the Holy Ghost", "enlightened", and "tasted of the heavenly gift" are all descriptions of true believers. Some passages, including Hebrews 6:4–6 and 10:23–31, are taken by some to suggest that a 'saved' person can lose their salvation. Others see them as severe warnings which do not include the loss of salvation, but in many cases fiery judgment for those who were never saved and only playing at Christianity.[73]
  • A third interpretation maintains that Hebrews 6:4-8 describes only those who temporarily backslide in their faith, and does not address the issue of the loss of salvation. This interpretation is well presented in an exegetical outline of the book of Hebrews found on the website of Ariel Ministries, a Messianic-Jewish organization founded by Arnold Fruchtenbaum in 1971. Some advocates of this position claim that the passage says that those who experience the five spiritual privileges mentioned in verses 4 and 5 cannot lose their salvation and then be saved again later (i.e. be "restore[d]... again to repentance") because that would require a recrucifixion of Christ (v. 6), thus rendering ineffectual his initial propitiatory death, putting Him to open shame. This position maintains that the Greek word used for "repentance" in verse 6 refers to "salvation repentance" rather than "repentance to restore fellowship." Supporters of this interpretation also cite the overall context of chapters 5 and 6 as evidence for their position: chapter 5 concludes with a rebuke to the recipients of the epistle for wasting time, dawdling in spiritual infancy, while chapter 6 begins with an exhortation not to continue wasting time as spiritual infants, but to "press on to maturity."
  • Biblical theologian David DeSilva writes that "Many interpreters are driven to treat this passage as either a 'problem passage' or crux for a specific theological or ideological conviction."[74] DeSilva agrees that the passage cannot refer to "saved" individuals since the author of Hebrews views salvation as the deliverance and reward that awaits the faithful at the return of Christ. Those who have trusted God's promise and Jesus' mediation are "those who are about to inherit salvation' which comes at Christ's second coming.[75] He argues that the passage refers to unbelievers who have received God's gifts and have benefited from God's grace, yet still remained skeptics.
  • Biblical theologian B. J. Oropeza suggests that those who read and listened to this letter had experienced persecutions in the past, and the author of Hebrews acknowledges that some church members had become apostates. The several terms in Hebrews 6:1–6 are to stress that these former apostates had experienced conversion-initiation; there is no place in the New Testament, for example, where unbelievers or fake Christians explicitly share in the Holy Spirit as did these former members. The author of Hebrews thus rhetorically stresses that despite all these benefits and experiences that confirmed their conversion, they fell away; and now he warns the hearers of this message that in their present state of malaise and neglecting church gatherings, the same thing could happen to them. The consequences of apostasy without restoration are portrayed as dire (Hebrews 6:7–8; Hebrews 10:26–29; Hebrews 12:15–17).[76]

Comparison among Protestants[edit]

This table summarizes the views of four different Protestant beliefs.

Calvinism Lutheranism Arminianism Free Grace
Perseverance of the saints: the eternally elect in Christ will certainly persevere in faith.[77] Falling away is possible,[78] but God gives gospel assurance.[79][80] Preservation is conditional upon continued faith in Christ; with the possibility of a final apostasy.[81] Falling away from the faith is possible, however God promises eternal security.[58][56]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Grudem 1994, p. 970. "The Perseverance of the Saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God's power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again."
  2. ^ a b Sproul 2016, ch. Perseverance and Preservation.
  3. ^ Palmer 1996, p. 82.
  4. ^ Purkiser 1972, p. 74. "In the majority of cases, however, the doctrine of eternal security is not grounded on the Calvinistic dogma of unconditional predestination. While all who teach eternal security are frequently called "Calvinists," actually the greater portion of them are no more than 20 percent Calvinistic."
  5. ^ Johnson 2008, pp. 21–22. "It is common to hear the term “eternal security” used basically as a synonym for “the perseverance of the saints”. [...] However, the term “eternal security” is often used in a very different and unbiblical way [...] Hence, in common usage, the term “eternal security” can sometimes refer to a doctrine diametrically opposed to the Reformed doctrine of perseverance."
  6. ^ Grudem 1994, p. 860. "[W]e see why the phrase eternal security can be quite misleading. In some evangelical churches, instead of teaching the full and balanced presentation of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, pastors have sometimes taught a watered-down version, which in effect tells people that all who have once made a profession of faith and been baptized are “eternally secure.”"
  7. ^ Horton 2002, p. 24. "In fact, eternal security itself is not a Calvinistic doctrine but, at least in the expressions with which I am familiar, rests on Arminian presuppositions concerning grace and free will."
  8. ^ Hunt & White 2009, p. 392. "[As Laurence M.] Vance says: It is the Calvinists who reject the biblical teaching of eternal security. The fifth point of the TULIP, as it was originally formulated and commonly interpreted, is at enmity with eternal security. Perseverance of the not the same thing as eternal security."
  9. ^ Oort 2006, pp. 709–723.
  10. ^ McCann 2009, pp. 274–277.
  11. ^ a b Christie-Murray 1989, p. 89.
  12. ^ Latourette 1945, p. 332. "The young Augustine for a time had fellowship with it [Manichaeanism). It seems to have left a permanent impression upon him."
  13. ^ Adam 1968, pp. 1–25.
  14. ^ Newman 1904, p. 361.
  15. ^ Wilson 2018, pp. 41–94.
  16. ^ O'Donnell 2005, pp. 45, 48.
  17. ^ Chadwick 1986, p. 14.
  18. ^ Hanegraaf 2005, pp. 757–765, ch. Manichaeism.
  19. ^ Bonner 1999, pp. 227–243, ch. Augustine, the Bible and the Pelagians.
  20. ^ Schaff 1997, pp. 789, 835.
  21. ^ Strong & McClintock 1880.
  22. ^ Chadwick 1993, p. 232-233.
  23. ^ Mozley 1855, p. 149. "When St. Augustine is charged by Pelagius with fatalism, he does not disown the certainty and necessity, but only the popular superstitions and impieties of that system."
  24. ^ Haight 1974, p. 30. "Infant baptism tended to be regarded as an initiation into the kingdom of God and the effects of Original Sin as mediated by society. Only adult baptism included the remission of sin. Augustine denied this traditional view: Man's nature is fundamentally disordered because of inherited sin and this involved personal guilt so that an unbaptized infant could not be save."
  25. ^ Chadwick 1965.
  26. ^ Cross 2005, p. 701.
  27. ^ Augustine 1994, pp. 184, 196, Sermons III/8, Sermon 294.
  28. ^ Wilson 2017, p. 40.
  29. ^ Wilson 2018, pp. 150, 160–162, 185–189.
  30. ^ Hägglund 2007, p. 139–140.
  31. ^ Burnell 2005, pp. 85–86.
  32. ^ Wilson 2018, pp. 184–189, 305.
  33. ^ Davis 1991, p. 213.
  34. ^ Newman 1904, p. 317.
  35. ^ McGrath 1998, pp. 160–163.
  36. ^ EncyclopaediaE 2024a.
  37. ^ dePrater 2015, pp. 37.
  38. ^ EncyclopaediaE 2024b.
  39. ^ Stacey 2024.
  40. ^ Schaff 1997b, § 75.
  41. ^ Schaff 1997, § 76.
  42. ^ dePrater 2015, pp. 42–43.
  43. ^ McMahon 2012, pp. 7–9. "This is why one finds that every four pages written in the Institutes of the Christian Religion John Calvin quoted Augustine. Calvin, for this reason, would deem himself not a Calvinist, but an Augustinian. [...] Christian Calvinist, should they be more likely deemed an Augustinian-Calvinist?"
  44. ^ McKinley 1965, p. 19.
  45. ^ Muller 2003, pp. 64–67.
  46. ^ Sproul 2016, p. 32.
  47. ^ Palmer 1996, p. 10.
  48. ^ Piper, John (9 July 2013). "Five Reasons to Embrace Unconditional Election". Desiring God. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  49. ^ Sproul, R.C. "TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  50. ^ Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, p. 788
  51. ^ a b Perseverance of the Saints
  52. ^ McKinley 1965, p. 56.
  53. ^ Sproul 2011, p. 37. "If God has decided our destinies from all eternity, that strongly suggests that our free choices are but charades, empty exercises in predetermined playacting. It is as though God wrote the script for us in concrete and we are merely carrying out his scenario."
  54. ^ Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration, art. ii, par. 71
  55. ^ Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration, art. xi, par. 42
  56. ^ a b Wilkin, Bob (22 May 2020). "The Perseverance of the Saints – Grace Evangelical Society". Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  57. ^ Stanley, Charles (1990). Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. pp. 81, 116–118. ISBN 0840790953.
  58. ^ a b Lazar, Shawn (2 April 2020). "Five Differences Between Perseverance of the Saints and Eternal Security – Grace Evangelical Society". Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  59. ^ Tony Lane. Exploring Christian Doctrine: A Guide to What Christians Believe, 216
  60. ^ "John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion – Christian Classics Ethereal Library". 3.6. Retrieved 2023-05-17.
  61. ^ Acts 10:44–48
  62. ^ 1Sam 19:23–24, 11:6
  63. ^ Calvin, John. Commentary on Hebrews 6:4 Commentary on Hebrews 6:4
  64. ^ Heb 2:1–4, 3:6,12–14, 4:12–13, 6:4–12, 10:26–39, 12:25–29
  65. ^ Various scholarly positions are given in Oropeza, B. J. “The Warning Passages in Hebrews: Revised Theologies and New Methods of Interpretation.Currents in Biblical Research 10 (2011): 1–21.
  66. ^ 6:4–12
  67. ^ 10:26b–27a
  68. ^ 10:29
  69. ^ Phil 2:12
  70. ^ 2Pet 1:10
  71. ^ a b "Does Hebrews 6:4–6 mean we can lose our salvation?" Got Questions Ministries. Oct. 10, 2009.
  72. ^ 6:4
  73. ^ Herrick, Greg. "Assurance of Eternal Security." Oct. 10, 2009.
  74. ^ DeSilva, David A. "Hebrews 6:4-8: A Socio-rhetorical Investigation (Part 1)", Tyndale Bulletin’ 50.1 (1999) pp. 33–57.
  75. ^ Heb 9:28
  76. ^ Oropeza, B. J. Churches under Siege of Persecution and Assimilation: The General Epistles and Revelation. Apostasy in the New Testament Communities, Volume 3 (Eugene, OR: Cascade/Wipf & Stock, 2012), pp. 30–70.
  77. ^ The Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch XVII, “Of the Perseverance of the Saints.”
  78. ^ "Once saved always saved". WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2015. People can fall from faith. The Bible warns, "If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall" (! Corinthians 10:12). Some among the Galatians had believed for a while, but had fallen into soul-destroying error. Paul warned them, "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace" (Galatians 5:4). In his explanation of the parable of the sower, Jesus says, "Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they fall away" (Luke 8:13). According to Jesus a person can believe for a while and then fall away. While they believed they possessed eternal salvation, but when they fell from faith they lost God's gracious gift.
  79. ^ "Perseverence of the Saints (Once Saved Always Saved)". WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2015. We cannot contribute one speck to our salvation, but by our own arrogance or carelessness we can throw it away. Therefore, Scripture urges us repeatedly to fight the good fight of faith (Ephesians 6 and 2 Timothy 4 for example). My sins threaten and weaken my faith, but the Spirit through the gospel in word and sacraments strengthens and preserves my faith. That's why Lutherans typically speak of God's preservation of faith and not the perseverance of the saints. The key is not our perseverance but the Spirit's preservation.
  80. ^ Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Crossway, 1997), pp. 437–438.
  81. ^ “Many Arminians deny the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Crossway, 1997), p. 35.


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  • Hanegraaf, Wouter J., ed. (2005). Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Vol. 2. Leiden: Brill.
  • Horton, Michael (2002). Pinson, J. Matthew (ed.). Four Views on Eternal Security. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Hunt, Dave; White, James (2009). Debating Calvinism: Five Points, Two Views. Colorado Springs, CO: Crown Publishing Group.
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  • McGrath, Alister (1998). Iustitia Dei : a history of the Christian doctrine of justification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Further reading[edit]

Calvinist view[edit]

  • A. W. Pink (2001). Eternal Security. Sovereign Grace Publishers. ISBN 1-58960-195-5
  • Anthony A. Hoekema (1994) Saved by Grace. Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0857-3
  • D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1976). Romans 8:17-39: The Final Perseverance of the Saints. Banner of Truth. ISBN 0-85151-231-3
  • G. C. Berkouwer (1958). Studies in Dogmatics: Faith and Perseverance. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-4811-7
  • Thomas R. Schreiner & Ardel B. Caneday (2001). The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. Inter-Varsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1555-4
  • Judith M. Gundry (1991). Paul and Perseverance: Staying in and Falling Away. Westminster/John Knox. ISBN 0-664-25175-7
  • Alan P. Stanley (2007). Salvation is More Complicated Than You Think: A Study on the Teachings of Jesus. Authentic Publishing. ISBN 1-934068-02-0

Free Grace view[edit]

  • Charles C. Ryrie (1989, 1997). So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ. Moody Publishers. ISBN 0-8024-7818-2
  • Charles Stanley (1990). Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?. Oliver-Nelson Books. ISBN 0-8407-9095-3
  • Charles C. Bing (1991). Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response. GraceLife. ISBN 0-9701365-0-1
  • Joseph C. Dillow (1992). The Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man. Schoettle Publishing Company. ISBN 1-56453-095-7
  • Michael Eaton (1995). No Condemnation: A New Theology of Assurance. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1888-X
  • Chuck Smith (1996). Living Water: The Power of the Holy Spirit In Your Life. Harvest House Publishers. ISBN 963-218-647-8
  • Norman L. Geisler (1999, 2001). Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of Divine Election, 2nd ed. Bethany House Publishers. ISBN 0-7642-2521-9
  • Robert N. Wilkin (2005). Secure and Sure: Grasping the Promises of God. Grace Evangelical Society. ISBN 0-9641392-7-8

Arminian view[edit]

  • W. T. Purkiser (1956, 1974 2nd ed.). Security: The False and the True. Beacon Hill Press. ISBN 0-8341-0048-7
  • Robert Shank (1960). Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance. Bethany House Publishers. ISBN 1-55661-091-2
  • I. Howard Marshall (1969, 1995 Rev. ed.). Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away. Paternoster Press. ISBN 0-85364-642-2
  • David Pawson (1996). Once Saved, Always Saved? A Study in Perseverance and Inheritance. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-61066-2
  • Robert E. Picirilli (2002). Grace, Faith, Free Will. Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism. Randall House Publications. ISBN 0-89265-648-4
  • Frederick W. Claybrook, Jr. (2003) Once Saved, Always Saved? A New Testament Study of Apostasy. University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-2642-4
  • French L. Arrington (2005). Unconditional Eternal Security: Myth or Truth? Pathway Press. ISBN 1-59684-070-6

New Perspective view[edit]

  • Don Garlington (1994, 2009). Faith, Obedience, and Perseverance: Aspects of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1606088258
  • B. J. Oropeza (2000, 2007). Paul and Apostasy: Eschatology, Perseverance, and Falling Away in the Corinthian Congregation. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-55635-333-8
  • B. J. Oropeza (2011). In the Footsteps of Judas and Other Defectors: Apostasy in the New Testament Communities, Volume 1: The Gospels, Acts, and Johannine Letters. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1610972895
  • B. J. Oropeza (2012). Jews, Gentiles, and the Opponents of Paul: Apostasy in the New Testament Communities, Volume 2: The Pauline Letters. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1610972901
  • B. J. Oropeza (2012). Churches under Siege of Persecution and Assimilation: Apostasy in the New Testament Communities, Volume 3: The General Epistles and Revelation. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1610972918
  • Scot McKnight (2013). A Long Faithfulness: The Case for Christian Perseverance, Patheos Press. ISBN 978-1-62921-469-6.

Confessional Lutheran view[edit]

Catholic view[edit]

Multiple views[edit]

  • Herbert W. Bateman IV, editor (2007). Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews. Kregel Publications. ISBN 978-0-8254-2132-7
  • J. Matthew Pinson, editor (2002). Four Views on Eternal Security. Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-23439-5